Swansea City vs Bradford City, League Cup Final Preview
For viewers in the United States, this Sunday’s League Cup Final between Swansea City and Bradford City will be televised live on beIN SPORT beginning at 10:55am ET. If your TV provider doesn’t offer beIN SPORT, you can listen to a live radio commentary of the game via Talksport.com.
This will be Swansea’s first major cup final in their 100 year history. The Welsh club played at the old Wembley where they won the Football League Trophy (now known as the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy) in 1994 and 2006. The last time the Swans have come close to playing in a major final was 1964 when they got beat in the FA Cup semi-final against Preston. The only other close encounter was the 1930 FA Cup semi-final when they lost against Bolton Wanderers.
Bradford City, 71 places below Swansea in the league, won the FA Cup in 1911 after they defeated Newcastle United. The last time the Bantams were in the Premier League was the 2000-01 season when the finished bottom in the division and were relegated alongside Manchester City and Coventry City. Since then, the club has slid down the league tables. They’re now in eleventh position in League Two.
Bradford is the first fourth-tier team to qualify for the League Cup Final since 1962.
The League Cup Final, officially known as the Capital One Cup, will be an emotional occasion for both clubs. Bradford City will wear embroidered jackets to honor the 56 people who died in the tragic fire at their Valley Parade ground in 1985. Plus, nine-year old cancer survivor Jake Turton will lead out his Bradford side as mascot alongside 12-year-old Ryan Siddall who is alive thanks to his father donating a kidney.
Even the Dalai Lama has blessed Bradford City and has sent them a letter wishing them good luck.
How They Got Here
For Bradford, it’s been a Cinderella story. The club has overcome all odds to reach the final, knocking out clubs such as Arsenal, Aston Villa, Wigan Athletic, Notts County, Watford and Burton Albion along the way to Wembley. Bradford, the penalty kings, defeated Arsenal and Wigan on spot kicks after added extra time.
Swansea, meanwhile, beat Chelsea, Middlesbrough, Liverpool, Barnsley and Crawley Town. The second leg against Chelsea was marred by the infamous Swansea City ball boy incident.
Prize money is not distributed throughout the League Cup process, rather after the competition, with the finalists and semi-finalists rewarded. The winners of the tournament will receive £100,000, with the losers pocketing £50,000. For Bradford both will be more than welcome, however they are a good underdog bet with Ladbrokes at 13/2 to win in normal time.
Readers expecting Swansea to steamroll over Bradford will be mistaken. The Yorkshire club has made it to the final by hard work, not luck. Captain Gary Jones, who played for Swansea for one season in the mid-nineties, is the club’s key player. Jones was man of the match against Arsenal, and played a key role in the club’s 4-3 aggregate win against Aston Villa in the semi-final. Goalkeeper Matt Duke has a solid pair of hands between the posts, while former West Ham United footballer Zavon Hines is a danger on the right wing.
As a Swansea City supporter, I’m not optimistic regarding my team’s chances of winning their first piece of major silverware this Sunday (the winner will qualify for next season’s Europa League competition). Bradford plays a style of football that zeros in on Swansea’s weaknesses. The League Two club prefers a traditional route-one style of football. They’re dangerous in the air and deadly on set pieces. These are all of Swansea’s weaknesses rolled into one.
The only hope for a Swansea win on Sunday will be if the club can keep possession, passing the ball on the pitch and getting around the Bradford midfield and defenders to score. This will be an intriguing match-up between two sides who like to sit back and break on the counter, so expect the first 45 minutes to be a cagey affair where either team is waiting for a breakthrough that may not come.
Either way, Sunday’s match promises to be a wonderful final to watch. You’ve got two Cinderella stories coming together on the pitch. Only one will walk away with the glass slipper.