Swansea are heavy favourites to secure a first major trophy in their history when they face League Two side Bradford City in the Capital One League Cup final at Wembley on Sunday (4pm GMT, live on Sky Sports).
The Swans have enjoyed a strong season and were highly impressive in defeating Chelsea 2-0 on aggregate to progress to the final, having previously vanquished Barnsley, Crawley Town, Liverpool and Middlesborough.
Danish coach Michael Laudrup has built on the success of the club’s previous coaches, continuing with the short passing style that has become Swansea’s trademark whilst also displaying an ability to shut up shop as and when the occasion calls for it.
Joe Allen, Glyfi Sigurdsson and Scott Sinclair, three of the key components of the side who finished in a highly credible 11th place in their debut Premier League season, left the club in the summer, but Swansea’s forward momentum has nevertheless continued unabated.
Laudrup looked largely to Spain for new recruits, showing a keen eye for a bargain by bringing in the likes of Chico Flores, Jonathan de Guzman and Michu for negligible fees. Michu has been particularly impressive, scoring 18 times in all competitions, including one in the semi-final win over Chelsea.
The slightly more expensively procured Sung-Yong Ki and Pablo Hernandez have also begun to settle into life in England, while January free transfer signing Roland Lamah has shown flashes of promise during his limited minutes to date.
Laudrup decided to rest the large majority of his usual starting eleven against Liverpool last weekend, saving legs and minds for Sunday’s final, and paid the price with a startlingly inept performance that resulted in a 5-0 defeat.
The Swans are, though, still in a strong eighth place in the league, a full 70 places ahead of their opponents on Sunday in the English league structure.
Bradford’s run to the final of the Capital One Cup has been little short of a miracle. The Bantams, who are currently 11th in League Two, eight points shy of the playoffs, have seen off Premier League opposition on three occasions – beating Wigan and Arsenal on penalties before winning 4-3 on aggregate against Aston Villa in the semi-final.
Phil Parkinson’s side have showed plenty of grit and determination to reach Wembley. Their cup run has certainly helped increase the profile of the former Colchester and Charlton boss, with a number of Championship clubs said to be interested in securing his services for next season.
A team built almost entirely around academy graduates and free transfer signings have gone toe-to-toe with sides three leagues above them and provided some much needed relief for supporters forced to witness a club who were in the Premier League as recently as 2001 descend, via two spells in administration, to English football’s bottom professional tier.
The Bantams’ campaign has been characterised by strong teamwork, but certain individuals have stood out, most notably Bermudan international striker Nahki Wells, scorer of three goals in the competition and 14 in the league, and experienced midfielder Gary Jones, who assisted three of the four goals against Villa in the semi-final.
Promotion is still Bradford’s top priority – victories in their two matches in hand could see them close to within two points of the playoff spots – but having become only the second bottom tier side in history to reach the final of the League Cup, Bradford will be going all out to try and become the first team from outside the top flight to win the competition since Sheffield Wednesday in 1991.
Swansea v Bradford City Betting Tips Verdict
Laudrup has proved to be somewhat of a cup specialist in his short managerial career to date, winning two Danish cups at Brondby and reaching the final of the Copa del Rey with Getafe.
His Swansea side possess a good mix of invention and pace, and are generally very well balanced from front to back, attributes that should be sufficient to see them overcome a Bradford side who will be diligent and hard-working, but lacking in quality.
- Swansea are not very attractively priced for the outright victory, at best odds of 2/5 with various bookmakers. To achieve a slightly better return we suggest backing Swansea -1 on an Asian Handicap @ best odds of 11/20 at Bet365. If they win by one goal your stake is returned, while a victory by two or more goals sees the bet pay out
- Michu has only scored twice in his last eight matches, but has often stepped up to the plate when Swansea have needed him this season, scoring in the semi-final win over Chelsea and against Manchester United and Arsenal in the Premier League. Therefore, back Michu to score at anytime @ best odds of 10/11 with William Hill.