Less than two years after Swansea City secured that famous Play-off Final victory over Reading at Wembley Stadium, the seaside club from South Wales are at it again.
Wednesday night’s 0-0 draw with Champions of Europe, Chelsea, helped the Swans see out a 2-0 aggregate win over the Blues, and has given them the chance to compete for their first ever major trophy in their 101 year existence.
Their last trip to Wembley saw them return to the top flight of English football for the first time since 1983. The 4-2 win over the Royals was dubbed as their biggest game since the Swans beat Hull City by the same score line at the old Vetch Field in 2003, a game which kept them in the Football League.
But is this an even bigger game? With a place in the Europa League at stake, surely this is one of Swansea’s greatest ever opportunities.
Victories over Middlesbrough, holders Liverpool, and Chelsea over two legs, have seen the swans fly into the final, and now only Bradford City of League Two stand between them and another Wembley success.
But as all football fans know well, never underestimate the underdog. Bradford have won more matches against Premier League opposition than QPR this season, having beaten Wigan, Aston Villa and Arsenal to get into the final, so boy have they earned it!
Swansea have had relatively limited success when it comes to trophies, the Welsh Cup and Football League Trophy are about the best they have managed. But with the side performing well under manager Michael Laudrup, the Swans have seemed destined for some sort of success since the word go.
Their obvious outstanding performer is of course Michu. The man, who made the trip from Spain for a mere £2million in the summer, has scored 16 goals in all competitions for the Swans. But it’s not just the revolutionary Spaniard who has been on top form this season.
In the shadows the likes of Wayne Routledge, Angel Rangel, Ben Davies and Gerhard Tremmel have all upped their game to help Swansea secure the Wembley final. Whilst new signings Pablo Hernandez, Chico Flores and Jonathan De Guzman have shown just why Laudrup has brought them to the Liberty Stadium.
Not forgetting the efforts of ever present Ashley Williams, Michel Vorm and Leon Britton, one of the few remaining in Swansea’s squad who played in that victory over Hull 10 years ago.
But football, and especially Swansea’s style of the game, is all about the team, not individuals.
Swansea’s performances seemed to peak last year under now Liverpool manager, Brendan Rodgers. But I believe a manager moving on is part and parcel of the game. The Great Dane has come in and, if anything, Swansea have improved.
Earlier this season, pundits suggested the Swans could make Europe via 5th place in the League, but nobody saw them doing it through the League Cup.
My League Cup Final prediction: A close game. Bradford have shown that they are a quality side and should not be underestimated. Swansea must try to finish it within normal time, and not let it get to penalties. Especially seeing The Bantams’ record of 9 consecutive shootout wins under their belt.
Score: Swansea City 3 – 2 Bradford City.
Written By Owen Midha