Both Swansea City and Bradford City come into the Capital One Cup final with great stories behind them, but only one will get a fairytale ending at Wembley.
For Bradford, merely being there is an incredible feat. They are the first side ever from England’s fourth tier to reach a major Wembley final and have already dispensed of Premier League sides Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa en route.
The match sees a return to the big time for Bradford after a dramatic fall from grace following their relegation from the Premier League in 2001. In their second and last season in the top flight, Bradford fell into the trap of spending beyond their means and they have been paying the price since as they tumbled through the divisions.
Bradford’s league form has, perhaps understandably, suffered in the midst of their cup heroics. A defeat to then bottom of the table AFC Wimbledon last weekend leaves Phil Parkinson’s side eight points off the playoffs, albeit with games in hand over the sides above them.
While Bradford’s incredible cup run has dominated attention, Swansea’ story is no less impressive. Just 10 years ago the side from South Wales were in an even worse shape than Bradford are now and only maintained their place in the Football League with a victory on the final day of the season.
Their rise since has been just reward for exemplary running of the club by Huw Jenkins that should provide an example for all teams to follow. Swansea’s hierarchy decided on a possession-based playing style and have consistently appointed coaches to carry it out in the likes of Roberto Martinez, Brendan Rodgers and now Michael Laudrup.
The Dane is fully aware of what Sunday’s match means to the club’s fans.
“I know the importance of this game for both the fans and for the city,” he said, according to Swansea’s website. “Since the semi-final we have had three away games and one at home.
“We did well in those games, but I wanted to put the final to one side and focus on the league. But now we are only three days away from Wembley and everyone is really looking forward to it.”
Laudrup rested a host of players against Liverpool last weekend and Swansea will be at full strength at Wembley, with the exception of Chico Flores and long-term injury victim Neil Taylor.
Bradford look set to make a late decision on the fitness of defender Rory McArdle, while Andy Gray is again cup-tied.
D: Darby, Mchugh, McArdle, Good
M: Hines, Doyle, Jones, Atkinson
F: Wells, Hanson
D: Rangel, Bartley, Williams, Davies
M: Britton, De Guzman
Dyer, Routledge, Hernandez
Prediction: Bradford have the tools to cause Swansea plenty of problems, especially with the Welsh side missing key defender Chico Flores. But Swansea clearly have the better players and on the large Wembley surface, their passing game could well wear Bradford down and see the Premier League side come away with the trophy.
Bradford 1-3 Swansea
Where to watch: The Capital One Cup final will kick-off at 11 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by beIN Sport. A live stream, which you view at your own discretion will be available here.
Sports reporter, mainly focusing on my native sport of soccer, but also dabbling in some tennis and Formula One.