Chris Burton takes a look at Swansea's historic Capital One Cup final victory over Bradford.
Last Updated: 24/02/13 8:28pm
Swansea made history in the 2013 Capital One Cup final
Swansea City re-wrote the history books on Sunday as they swept aside Bradford City in the Capital One Cup final.
Having defied the odds to make it to Wembley, much of the focus pre-match was on League Two hopefuls Bradford and their fairytale run.
Swansea ensured that the final was all about them, though, with Michael Laudrup's side flexing their Premier League muscles on the way to claiming a comprehensive success.
The Welsh outfit are currently celebrating the first major cup triumph in their 100-year existence, while their 5-0 victory over the Bantams has set a new benchmark in League Cup finals.
Rory McArdle was able to shake off a knock in time to line up at the heart of Bradford's back four. Curtis Good, on loan from Newcastle United, won the battle to start at left-back, while Garry Thompson edged out Zavon Hines on the right of midfield. That was the only change made by Phil Parkinson to the starting XI which got over the line against Aston Villa in the semi-finals.
Gerhard Tremmel continued between the sticks for Swansea, having been used as their League Cup keeper this season. Spanish defender Chico Flores missed out through injury, meaning Ki Sung-Yueng was pushed back into an unfamiliar centre-back berth. Jonathan de Guzman was deployed a little deeper in midfield than usual, as a result of Ki's positional switch, while Pablo Hernandez was deployed in a roaming role behind the prolific Michu.
Bradford stuck with their tried and tested 4-4-2 system, with the intention to keep things tight and pose a threat on the counter. Phil Parkinson admitted as much afterwards, with that approach having served the Bantams well against previous Premier League opponents. Bradford looked to close the ball down quickly, but were left chasing shadows at times and were never able to bring the aerial threat of James Hanson, or the pace of Nahki Wells, into play.
Swansea lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Michael Laudrup resisting the urge to mix things up against supposed weaker opposition. He set his stall out to boss midfield, while providing plenty of movement up front. The Swans also looked to get the ball wide as often as possible early on, dragging Bradford out of position and opening up space for those in the middle. The Welsh side are among the best passing teams in the business, and showed that again on Sunday.
Having fallen two goals behind by half-time, Parkinson looked to mix things up at the interval. He threw on Andrew Davies in place of Curtis Good, but then saw Bradford concede a third within minutes of the re-start. The second half dismissal of Matt Duke forced the Bantams to sacrifice Wells and send on back-up keeper Jon McLaughlin, and his first task was to pick the ball out of the back of the net. Hines replaced Thompson on 73 minutes, but was unable to make any impact.
Laudrup's decision to send on Garry Monk in place of Ki shortly after the hour mark was a nice touch, with Swansea's club captain given the chance to experience a cup final and lift the trophy. Roland Lamah replaced Nathan Dyer on 77 minutes, denying the winger an opportunity to complete a hat-trick. Ben Davies made way for Dwight Tiendalli late on, as Swansea eased over the line.
Kevin Friend had one big decision to make in the game, and probably got it right. Bradford boss Parkinson was aggrieved to see Duke handed a straight red card for tripping De Guzman inside the box, but the laws of the game dictate that he had to go - regardless of the scoreline and occasion. Friend also booked Ki for a reckless challenge on Wells, which was again the right decision given that the Swansea man came through the back of the Bradford striker and got nowhere near the ball.
Wells is a man who has been linked with a move up the football food chain in the not too distant future, but he was given little opportunity to enhance his reputation on the grandest of stages. The Bermudan hardly got a kick as Swansea dominated from the off, with Bradford unable to work the ball into dangerous areas in the final third. A miserable afternoon for Wells was compounded when he had to make way for the introduction of McLaughlin.
Michu has been the main man for Swansea this season, and he was among the goals again at Wembley. Dyer and De Guzman may have bagged a brace apiece, but it is Michu who has spearheaded the Swans' cup charge and their efforts to secure a lofty finish in the Premier League. The Spanish frontman hit the shot which led to Dyer's opener, before grabbing Swansea's second himself. He was allowed to turn inside the box and drill low into the bottom corner, collecting himself his 19th goal of a memorable debut season in English football.
Bradford can be rightly proud of their efforts in cup competition this season, with Sunday's outing their 15th in knockout football this term. They may have tripped at the final hurdle, but they have produced one of THE stories of the 2012/13 campaign and those who have followed them from a trip to Notts County in round one all the way to Wembley will cherish the memories for the rest of their days.
Swansea look to be a side going places. The groundwork has been put in place by previous bosses such as Roberto Martinez, Paulo Sousa and Brendan Rodgers, but Laudrup has picked up the baton and ran with it. He has stuck by the passing philosophies of his predecessors and has assembled a team which is pleasing on the eye. They will now be looking to kick on after collecting a first piece of major silverware, with further trophy challenges and European adventures expected in the future.
Capital One Cup final 2013
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- Parkinson: It wasn't our day
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- Laudrup proud of trophy win
- Swansea break Bradford hearts
- Laudrup plays down move talk
- London Calling
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