Swans look to fly at expense of plucky Bantams

Bradford players celebrate   scoring against Aston Villa
Bradford players celebrate scoring against Aston Villa

Joseph Begaj 22/02/2013

Football League Cup Final

Bradford City’s incredible run in the Capital One Cup has restored credibility and excitement to the competition deemed the least significant tournament in English football. Bradford could make history if they beat Swansea. Joseph Begaj previews this Sunday’s Final…


The season’s first major domestic silverware will be decided this Sunday at Wembley with Bradford City facing Premier League Swansea City. Phil Parkinson’s Bantams have upset the odds time and time again in a fairy tale cup run that has seen them become the first Fourth Tier club to reach a major cup final in 51 years; and also the first to do so at Wembley.


This will be Swansea’s first major final in their history and will be particularly poignant as it has arrived in their centenary year. It is Bradford’s first serious final since a 1911 FA Cup final replay victory over Newcastle. Both sides have graced the hallowed turf before; Bradford won the Division Two play-off final at the old Wembley under the guidance of Chris Kamara in 1995/96. The Swans will be making their third visit after Football League trophy glory in 1993/94 and more recently their 2010/11 Championship play-off final victory.


The League Two side – assembled for just £7,500 – have already knocked out three Premier League teams, following up their penalty shoot-out wins over Arsenal and Wigan with a memorable 4-3 aggregate win over Aston Villa. Swansea’s superb semi-final win over Chelsea, in which they ruthlessly punished defensive errors before stifling the European Champions wealth of attacking options is to be admired.


The head-to-head couldn’t be closer, in 54 meetings between the sides, both have 20 wins and only a solitary goal separates the two teams. Their last meeting was a 2-2 draw at Valley Parade during the 2006/07 season whilst both sides were in League One. They have never previously met in cup competitions. Swansea have been on mixed form of late, a loss at West Ham was followed by a 4-1 drubbing of QPR prior to their capitulation at Liverpool (albeit with an under-strength side).


Bradford have been in particularly poor form with only one win in their last eight league games that has seen them slump from the verge of the automatic promotion spots into mid-table. Both Michael Laudrup and Phil Parkinson have rested key players; the Swans’ captain Ashley Williams and buy-of-the-season Michu sat out the trip to Anfield, while Bantams strike duo Nahki Wells and James Hanson missed Saturday’s defeat at rock-bottom AFC Wimbledon. Both managers face a race against time to ensure defenders Chico Flores (Swansea) and Rory McArdle (Bradford) are fit; but barring any last minute injuries should be able to name full strength line-ups.


The Welsh side are favourites to lift the cup and are sure to dominate possession with their patient passing game; but the West Yorkshire outfit can be devastating on the break, as evidenced against Villa in the last round. If the Bantams can survive the early skirmishes, they have shown they can strike late on, with eight of 11 goals in this season’s competition arriving on 77 minutes or later, as well as boasting an English record nine consecutive penalty shoot-out wins.


The two clubs have knocked out five previous winners, accounting for 20 League Cups, during their respective runs. The trophy will have a new name engraved on it come 6pm on Sunday and whichever side triumphs, they’ll be worthy victors of a cup competition that has captured the imagination of the public. The exploits of both teams this season has gone a long way to re-igniting the magic of the cup. The ultimate prize? A place in Europe.

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