Kick Off: Sunday 26th February
Live on BBC1 4.00pm
Sixty different clubs have played at the new Wembley Stadium since it opened in 2007, strangely though Liverpool are not one of them. Cardiff City on the other hand may call England’s national stadium their second home, only Manchester United, Chelsea and Portsmouth have played there more often.
Cardiff’s run to the final has seen them overcome Premier League opposition when beating Blackburn in the quarter finals. They played fellow Championship side Crystal Palace in the semis, needing penalties to advance for the second time in the competition.
By contrast Liverpool have beaten three other top division sides in the last three rounds, including a comfortable 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge and an enthralling 3-2 aggregate win in the last four against table topping Manchester City.
Both teams recent form could not be more different coming into this game. Liverpool’s defeat in a feisty game at Old Trafford is their only defeat in their last six matches and in their last game put 6 past a decent Brighton side.
Cardiff on the other hand only have one win in February and were humiliated at Ipswich last time out.
For the first time in his career, Wales international Craig Bellamy looks set to play against the club he supported as a boy having recovered from the back problem that kept him on the sidelines against Brighton.
The Bluebirds will give captain Mark Hudson and Stephen McPhail late fitness tests- Hudson has been struggling with a calf injury while former Ireland international McPhail, who suffers from Sjogren’s Syndrome, hasn’t played since January.
Semi final shoot-out hero Tom Heaton looks as though he will overcome an ankle knock to start ahead of David Marshall. Midfielder Haris Vuckic will miss the final, the Slovenian is on loan from Newcastle and is cup-tied.
Former Everton trainee Anthony Gerrard would love to get one over on the red half of Merseyside, standing in his way, his cousin Steven- Liverpool’s captain.
Sunday’s game will be the first time the two sides have met since Liverpool’s 2-1 win at Anfield in the Carling Cup 4th round in 2007. The last time they played before that was a 4-0 Cardiff win at Anfield, although that was in 1959.
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In total, 29 games have been played between the two sides with only 2 draws, Cardiff have 18 wins to Liverpool’s 9. This season Liverpool have struggled against lower opposition, winning less than half of their games against teams below them in the league, and Cardiff have needed extra time or penalties in all but 2 rounds of this year’s competition. It could be worth bearing this in mind before setting off down the bookies this weekend, with most offering between 7/2 and 15/4 for the game to go to extra time.
Goals could come from a variety of sources in this game, Luis Suarez has scored 3 in 3 in the Carling Cup whereas Kenny Miller and Peter Whittingham, have both found the net 10 times this season for Cardiff. And surely you cannot ignore Craig Bellamy who shone at Cardiff last season, the Welshman priced between 4/1 and 6/1 to score first with most bookies.
No team from outside the top flight has won a major trophy in England since Sheffield Wednesday lifted the League Cup back in 1991. I dare say everyone who doesn’t support Liverpool or Swansea will be hoping that changes on Sunday.