League Two side Bradford City will be hoping their cup fairytale has a happy ending, as they face Premier League side Swansea City at Wembley at 4pm.
Swansea City come into their first cup final as huge favourites, but anything is possible in a cup final.
Bradford City come into the game with a familiar tag and one that they have thrived under in this year’s competition. The ‘underdogs’ fully deserve their place in the final, having overcome Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa to reach the Wembley show-piece. However, their form has been poor of late, losing five of their last seven games since that famous 3-1 semi-final win over Aston Villa. Phil Parkinson’s side sit in 11th place in League Two, but with three Premier League scalps already, who is to say the men from Bradford can’t add a fourth. Bradford City’s last major final was the FA Cup triumph of 1911 and this year’s cup run has captivated the country. Interestingly,they have won their last nine successive penalty shoot-outs, including two during this year’s competition in wins over Wigan and Arsenal.
Swansea City have also had to do things the hard way to get to Sunday’s final, beating Liverpool and Chelsea among others. They are aware of the threat Bradford City pose, but will be fully focused ahead of the the Swans’ first ever major cup final. It has been a début season to remember for manager Michael Laudrup, with the south Wales club currently sitting in the top half of the Premier League. A place in the Europa League awaits the winners and it would be a huge achievement if Swansea were to see the job through on Sunday. Their recent form is slightly worrying, losing 5-0 to Liverpool last weekend. However, the form book goes out the window when it comes to a cup final and anything is possible on Sunday. The only certainty is that we are in for an enthralling cup final.
Bradford have no injury concerns ahead of Sunday’s historic final. Defender Rory McArdle made a return to training during the week following a hamstring injury and he will be a big boost to Phil Parkinson’s side. Striker Andy Gray is cup-tied after appearing for Leeds earlier in the competition. Garry Thompson is expected to lead the line up front. Zavon Hines is pushing for a start, having performed well in both legs in the semi-final against Aston Villa. 20-year-old Donegal defender Carl McHugh should start in defence, capping a wonderful year for the young Irishman.
Swansea defender Chico Flores will miss the final, as he has failed to recover from an ankle injury sustained against Queens Park Rangers. The Spanish defender is a huge loss to the Swans and Michael Laudrup will select either Kyle Bartley or club captain Garry Monk to start beside Ashley Williams. Neil Taylor is a long-term absentee with an ankle problem. Wayne Routledge, Angel Rangel and Spanish revelation Michu will return to the starting line-up after being rested at Anfield.
Players to Watch
Nakhi Wells has been in excellent form for Bradford City this season. He is the club’s top goalscorer with 18 goals this term, including one to remember in the semi-final win over Aston Villa. With Chico Flores missing from the heart of Swansea’s defence, Wells has an opportunity to give Bradford a historic victory.
Michu has been one of the stars in the Premier League this season and poses a serious threat to Bradford’s chances. The £2 million signing from Rayo Vallecano has taken to English football like a fish to water, with 15 league goals to his name already. Money well spent. However, the Spaniard is needed today more than ever as Swansea City look to win their first ever major cup final. Michu is the fan’s favourite at the Libery Stadium and can write himself into the annals of Swansea City history with a performance today.
League Two side Bradford City are looking to beat a team three divisions ahead of them for the fourth time this season and are rank outsiders to get their hands on the trophy. They have been written off time and time again this season but continue to upset the odds. Back them to continue that trend on Sunday and cap a fairytale year with a win at Wembley. Bradford City are 8/1 to beat Swansea with Boylesports.com.