The Villans Are The Bankers In Bradford
Bradford City have been the revelation of this season's Capital One Cup campaign, seeing off Gianfranco Zola's Watford team at Vicarage Road in round two followed by a penalty shoot-out victory away at Premier League Wigan Athletic. Then came the big one, the stunning penalty shoot-out triumph over Arsenal that sealed their place in the semi-finals of the competition.
Phil Parkinson's League 2 outfit are finally enjoying their moment in the spotlight, twelve long years since the club's relegation from the Premier League, and players and fans alike are making the most of it. Another capacity crowd is expected at Valley parade to watch the Bantams take on Aston Villa, and will be cheering on their underdogs once again.
Bradford will kick-off as 7/2 outsiders in the first leg, with Villa installed as 4/5 favourites.
The draw, the outcome of both of City's two matches against Premier League opposition this season is priced at 5/2.
Villa's favouritism can be justified if you look at their record against fourth tier teams in the League Cup. In 19 cup ties the Villans have won on ever single occasion. This will be the Midland team's 14th appearance in a League Cup semi-final, a record only matched by Arsenal and Liverpool.
Bradford winger Kyel Reid and defender Carl McHugh could return to the starting line-up. Fellow wide man and scorer against Arsenal Garry Thompson remains sidelined with knee ligament damage, and both striker James Hanson and Australian defender James Meredith are doubtful. Defenders Luke Oliver (ruptured Achilles) and Andrew Davies (knee) remain long-term absentees.
Paul Lambert may have to juggle his squad as the Villa manager has a number of injury problems to contend with across several positions.
Marc Albrighton is doubtful for the clash after injuring his foot against Ipswich but could make the squad whilst Richard Dunne (groin) and Stiliyan Petrov (leukaemia) have no set return dates. Ron Vlaar (calf) and Nathan Baker (hamstring) should both still be out while long-term absentee Gary Gardner (knee) will be absent until May.
The William Hill Headline offer for this midweek clash centres around goalscorers Nakhi Wells and Christian Benteke. Wells has worked tirelessly upfront for City throughout their cup run and has been enhanced to 7/1 to score in a home victory.
In what has been a miserable season for Villa supporters thus far, the Capital One Cup and the form of Christian Benteke have been the shining lights. Benteke is priced at 2/1 to find the back of the net in an Aston Villa win.
Undoubtedly, the two legged format of the semi-final is more favourable to the Premier League team and Villa are 1/9 to qualify through to the Wembley final, Bradford can be backed at 5/1.
In what I feel will be a tense, exciting, memorable night of cup football, I would plump for a narrow win for the visitors, with the scoreline 1-2 (7/1) appealing the most.
Andreas Weimann as a 6/5 anytime goalscorer is not a bad shout either.