Big football games happen every week in England for nine months of the year but the 2013 English Capital One Cup final at Wembley Stadium between Bradford and Swansea promises to be an extra special occasion because of the fourth-tier Bantams and their Cinderella story.
Not since 1962 has a team from the fourth level of the English pyramid qualified for the deciding match of this competition and Bradford has done it the hard way, beating three top-flight sides in their magnificent cup run.
Bradford knocked out Notts County (1-0 away), Watford (2-1 away) and Burton (3-2 home after extra time) before getting the better of English Premier League teams Wigan (4-2 on penalties after a 0-0 away draw), Arsenal (3-2 on penalties after a 1-1 home draw) and Aston Villa (4-3 on aggregate following a 3-1 home win and 1-2 away loss). The Bantams deserve to have their day at England’s national stadium.
It was not all that long ago that Bradford was an English Premier League team and Swansea was stuck in the lowest of the English Football League’s three divisions. In 2000, the Bantams were playing the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United, while the Swans were lining up against the likes of Barnet, Hartlepool and Rotherham. Times can change very quickly in the world of English football.
Bradford and Swansea have not met since they were slumming it in English League One together in 2007. The Bantams and the Swans drew 2-2, Bradford rescuing a home point with an 88th-minute Dean Windass penalty shortly after Swansea midfielder Kristian O’Leary received his marching orders.
Unsurprisingly, neither Bradford nor Swansea feature on the current English Capital One Cup honour roll. A total of 22 sides have won the tournament, with Liverpool leading the way on eight wins ahead of Aston Villa (five), Chelsea (four), Manchester United (four), Nottingham (four), Tottenham (four), Leicester (three), Arsenal (two), Birmingham (two), Manchester City (two), Norwich (two), Wolverhampton (two), Blackburn (one), Leeds (one), Luton (one), Middlesbrough (one), Oxford (one), Queens Park Rangers (one), Sheffield Wednesday (one), Stoke (one), Swindon (one) and West Bromwich (one).
Swans Raging Favourites
However, bookmakers are pretty confident that it will be Swansea’s name that the English Football League’s preferred engraver will be writing on the 2013 English Capital One Cup trophy, with the Swans trading at odds of around 2-5 to beat Bradford in normal time at Wembley Stadium. Swansea is around the 1-6 mark to get the job done at any time.
Bradford have fans in high places – the 14th Dalai Lama is cheering for Phil Parkinson’s team – and, as far as odds compilers are concerned, the Bantams will need something akin to a football miracle to become the first side since Sheffield Wednesday to win this competition from outside England’s top division. Bradford is trading at odds of around 8-1 to win in 90 minutes and 9-2 to lift the cup.
Most punters are suckers for a sentimental bet so do not be surprised if bookmakers report a steady flow of support for Bradford at big prices. However, there are smarter ways of betting on the 2013 English Capital One Cup final than chucking one’s hard-earned money on the rank outsider.
Few Goals, Many Corners
It is probably safe to overlook Bradford’s poor results in non-English Capital One Cup matches. The Bantams have had their worlds turned upside down since they beat Arsenal a couple of months ago so one can forgive them for winning only two of their last 13 games in other events. Bradford has had to fight to hold on to Parkinson, whose exploits have attracted interest from other teams, and the manager has been resting some of his side’s key players ahead of what may end up being the biggest match of their lives.
Swansea’s recent form, particularly in the goal-scoring department, albeit against English Premier League teams, is arguably more relevant than that of Bradford. The Swans have really struggled to find the back of the net since the turn of the year and, if one excludes their two massive victories over Queens Park Rangers, they have netted only 29 goals in 25 top-flight games. Surely Bantams boss Parkinson will set up his underdog side to try and frustrate the favourite.
In anticipation of Swansea romping to a comfortable 2013 English Capital One Cup final win, bookmakers are offering odds of better than even money about the match featuring fewer than three goals. One would think that a low-scoring game is more likely than a high-scoring one given the statistics of both finalists and their probable tactics.
Also, similar to the opinion of these guys worth a second look are the 2013 English Capital One Cup final markets pertaining to the number of corner kicks. All of Bradford’s goals versus Arsenal and Aston Villa came as a result of set-piece plays so it makes sense that the Bantams will look to win corners on what may be their rare forays forward. Swansea should dominate both possession and territory and win more than their fair share of corners.
Bantams Love Penalties
One would have to be a little bit crazy to back Bradford to win the 2013 English Capital One Cup final so, if one is that way inclined, here is a record-breaking statistic to consider: the Bantams have won an incredible nine penalty competitions in a row and they are long odds to extend their remarkable sequence to 10 victories at Wembley Stadium.