While all respect will be paid to finalists Bradford City, both Chelsea and Swansea will be fully aware that Wednesday’s semifinal second leg in the Capital One Cup represents a huge opportunity to secure the first major silverware of the English season.
For Swansea, it would represent a first major trophy in their 101 year history and be perhaps a fitting reward for the huge strides the club has made in the past decade.
Despite taking a 2-0 lead into the return match at the Liberty Stadium, not to mention having lost just two matches at home all season, Swansea manager Michael Laudrup is still claiming the role of underdogs.
“I don’t think we are [favorites],” he said, according to Swansea’s official website. “We are fully aware of what Chelsea can do, and we knew when the draw was made that it was going to be more than difficult.
“We are not a club that plays in these sorts of games very often, so we’ll be doing our very best to get to the final and it would be a fantastic achievement. “
There is certainly some realism to Laudrup’s assertion. Chelsea have been far better away from home under Rafael Benitez and have won their last six matches on the road in all competitions. After conceding two poor goals resulting from Branislav Ivanovic errors in the first leg, Benitez is confident that his side are up for the challenge of overcoming their deficit.
“The players are professionals,” he said, according to Chelsea’s official website. ”They are winners and they know we need to do our best because we deserved more from the first game.
“We have to perform in every game because we are a top side. My job is to bring the best from this team, but Swansea will be delighted if they get to the final so they have some pressure as well.”
Benitez again looks likely to begin with captain John Terry on the bench, with the defender still needing to build match fitness. David Luiz has traveled with the squad, but remains a doubt with an ankle injury.
Swansea will have key defender Chico Flores back after he missed the win over Stoke with a knee injury. Gerhard Tremmel will also come into the side in goal after playing in every round of the League Cup so far.
D: Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies
M: Ki, Britton
Hernandez, De Guzman, Routledge
D: Azpilicueta, Ivanovic, Cahill, Cole
M: Ramires, Luiz
Mata, Oscar, Hazard
Prediction: It promises to be an engaging and closely-matched encounter in south Wales. Chelsea will be looking for an early goal to set them on their way to overturning a two-goal deficit. At the same time, Swansea know that if they can score it puts them in a very strong position to make the final.
With Michu in their side, Swansea can be ruthlessly efficient with their chances and they could well get the goal and effectively seal their progress.
Swansea 1-1 Chelsea
Where to watch: The Capital One Cup semifinal second leg will kick off at 2.45 p.m. ET. A live stream will be available on beINSPORT.tv.