Football

Published on February 21st, 2013 | by Matthew Delaney

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Capital One Cup final: Swansea vs. Bradford

Wembley hosts Sunday’s Capital One Cup final [Elspeth Monk]

It has been called one of the most unpredictable finals in years and rightly so.

An unfashionable, somewhat downtrodden outfit from League Two versus a club, who themselves were in the same division not too long ago but have now risen to the heights of the Premier League in an almost mercurial fashion – its Sunday’s Capital One Cup final between Bradford City and Swansea City.

Some say the great, mythical ‘romance’ of the cup has returned and who are we to blame them?

This sort of fixture was unthinkable just a few months ago and I’m sure your bookie would have laughed you out of the shop if you asked for the odds on this.

Cup upsets

However, on Sunday, it will happen and you have to agree that both teams deserve their big day out at Wembley, especially Bradford, who have had an absolutely tremendous cup run.

The Bantams have knocked out three Premier League sides on their way to the final, including Arsenal and Aston Villa, to become the first side from the fourth tier of English football to reach a League Cup final in 50 years.

Not to take anything away from Swansea either though, who managed to overcome Chelsea at Stamford Bridge for the first time in 100 years thanks to goals from their now departed striker Danny Graham and the ever-brilliant Michu.

Bradford has become a city united in cup fever. The club shop has been besieged with fans buying everything from Phil Parkinson masks to a special edition of the club’s (actually quite fetching) gold away strip.

Flags are hanging from lampposts, messages of support are up in shop windows. Even local statues have been kitted out in replica shirts.

The game is the talk of the town and in the post offices and pubs of Bradford, people are beginning to believe.

Divine intervention

Perhaps they can even count on some divine intervention, as the Dalai Lama has sent a message of support after the supporters club sent him a personalised shirt last June.

An estimated 40,000 of their supporters will travel to Wembley on Sunday hoping that they will witness something special – history in the making.

Bradford have only won two of their last 11 games though, having drawn another two and lost the remaining seven.But they have passion and they have belief.

They have made it this far, having already beaten three top-flight opponents and there is no reason why they shouldn’t be able to do it again, especially with the carrot of European football dangling in front of them with all the financial benefits it would bring to the club.

Remarkable resurgence

Over in Swansea, Swans fans are also gearing up for what is arguably the biggest game in their history. The game that could see them win their first major domestic trophy and could see them back in European competition for the first time since 1991.

A victory would cap an amazing resurgence in Swansea’s fortunes over the last decade. From narrowly avoiding relegation from the Football League in 2003, to winning promotion to the Premier League in 2011 playing some beautiful football, with cult-hero and dribble king, Lee Trundle, being a particular highlight over the years.

Nobody can deny Swansea City do not deserve to play in a game like this after becoming an established, well respected top-flight outfit so soon after almost being consigned to the doldrums of the Conference. Their heroics against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge will live long in the memory.

Out-of-form

Unfortunately for Swansea though, that was the last time they have scored a goal away from The Liberty Stadium and they come into this game licking their wounds after a 5-0 drubbing by Liverpool.

Having only won two of their last eight games, Michael Laudrup is tasked with casting that form to the back of his players’ minds.

This is an absolutely enormous game for both sides and bearing in mind that the form book usually goes out of the window where Cup football is concerned, it is shaping up to be a fantastic game for the neutral as well.

The last time the two sides met was in a League One match which ended in a draw. On Sunday though, the two sides will head out on to the Wembley pitch with just 90 minutes separating one of them from victory.

Bradford have been a credit to themselves, their city and the lower leagues and many football fans would certainly not begrudge them a fairy-tale ending. Swansea, you feel, are perhaps ready to make the step up to European competition and victory here could be the icing on the cake of their success story.

One of the most unexpected finals in decades could also turn out to be one the most thrilling. Sunday’s match looks set to be an absolute cracker.

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