Swansea City v Bradford City, Capital One Cup final, Wembley Stadium, Sunday February 24th. Unless you are a supporter of Cardiff City or Huddersfield Town, how good does that sound?
Well not the Capital One bit (that always sounds rubbish) but you would have to have a heart as black as Margaret Thatcher’s not to feel the romance or think a major cup final being contested between two sides, 100 and 110 years old, one of whom is from the fourth tier of English football, is not a great thing for the game in England.
Neither side have been anywhere near a domestic cup final in over 200 years of combined football, and this unthinkable outcome has been an invigorating shot in the arm for the clubs, the competition and football in general.
As shock follows shock in the FA Cup as well, it has been clear that the Bantams’ extraordinary march to the final has been an inspiration to lower league clubs everywhere.
Because let’s be honest, it is absolutely ridiculous that Bradford City are in the League Cup final.
A club that has twice gone to the brink of extinction and fell down from the Premier League to League Two faster than Luis Suarez hits the deck have somehow defied the huge odds to knock out higher division opponents in the form of Notts County, Watford, Wigan Athletic, Arsenal and Aston Villa to give their long-suffering fans a fairy-tale ride.
But don’t think that Swansea’s fans are any less excited about the prospect of this one.
In what has been a dream couple of years, promotion to the Premier League could be capped off with a major trophy and a place in Europe next season: not bad for a club that have also experienced financial woes.
And when the hordes of travelling Swans fans see their team step out at Wembley, minds will no doubt be cast back ten years to when the club needed a last-day win over Hull City to avoid relegation to the Conference.
The example of Swansea is a fine one for Bradford as they aim to get out of the bottom tier, but that will all be forgotten come Sunday when the first cup of the season is up for grabs.
It is of no surprise to see Swansea installed at 17/50 favourites to win the cup inside 90 minutes, with the draw at 4/1 and Bradford priced up at 7/1 to complete the mother of all cup runs.
Alas, I don’t see it happening. Swansea are a classy outfit that don’t concede too many goals and they should have too much for Bradford, while also being able to keep them at arm’s length.
Michael Laudrup’s side have let in more than one goal in just eight of their 26 league matches and have shipped just 15 on the road, five of which came in the mauling at Liverpool last weekend – a result that showed that they haven’t been too bothered about the league of late.
But in the same way that Swansea might have taken their eye off the ball after reaching the final – they have won just two of their eight games since beating Chelsea in the semi-final first leg – looking at Bradford’s form is almost an irrelevance.
Everything that Phil Parkinson’s side have done since the competition began for them back in August has defied any type of logic, and it must be assumed that the players are likely to raise their game again on the hallowed Wembley turf.
But for the record, the Bantams have struggled ever since beating Arsenal at Valley Parade, winning just three of their 14 games, one of which was the semi-final first-leg victory over Aston Villa.
Eight of those games have ended in defeat, and even if the nature of the match renders form unimportant, it doesn’t inspire confidence.
In short, Swansea will be winning this. Laudrup has taken on the good work of Brendan Rodgers and bettered it, but 17/50 is not going to get you rich. So instead, I’ll be looking to Swansea’s star man to do the business once more.
Michu has been a revelation for the Welsh club since Laudrup prised him away from Rayo Vallecano for just £2 million in one of the deals of the century, and he can prove it once again on the big stage.
The Spaniard has 15 Premier League goals to his name, as well as two in this competition, and the 3/1 that he opens the scoring at Wembley looks fine by me.
Eight of Michu’s goals have been the first of the match, and he is definitely several cuts above what the Bradford defenders are used to facing in League Two.
Premier League defences have struggled against him, and having plundered goals against Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea, he can notch the first against Bradford to set his team on their way to the most glorious day in their history.