Friday, 24 February 2012

Carling Cup Final Preview: Cardiff v Liverpool

The first final of the footballing season is upon us and the first piece of silverware is available to win. The Carling Cup final isn't the biggest competition to win but for the two clubs in this year's final, winning the tournament would be great for different reasons. Premier League side Liverpool have not won any silverware since the FA Cup final of 2005/06 season where they beat West Ham on penalties. A win on Sunday would give the club a much needed boost and something to show for their excellent cup campaign this year. Championship side Cardiff City are battling for an automatic position for promotion to the Premier League and the Carling Cup final offers them a nice distraction from the promotion race. There are a few reasons why Sunday's final will be one to watch. Craig Bellamy will be playing against his boyhood team Cardiff for the first time in his career. Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard will be up against his cousin Anthony who plays in central defense for the Bluebirds. Finally Kenny Dalglish will be up agaisnt fellow Scot in the dugout meaning that Wales, England and Scotland will be represented at Wembley come four o'clock.

For the first time in six years Liverpool have reached a cup final. The Carling Cup will never be the biggest tournament to win but for the Merseyside club, a win would show and start to prove that they are back on track to become one of England's best teams. Having beaten clubs such as Stoke, Chelsea and Manchester City, Liverpool have not had an easy run to the final. The semi-final win against Manchester City over two legs showed that Liverpool are beginning to play like the top side they have proved in the past. The defence is alot stronger and with star striker Luis Suarez back and scoring goals, the team go into the final as strong favorites. The last time Liverpool won the Carling Cup, they came up against rivals Manchester United in the 2002/03 season where they came out winners 2-1. The last time they played a Championship team in the final was in the 2000/01 season where they beat Birmingham City on penalties.

Cardiff City
Malky Mackay's Cardiff City are once again battling for an automatic place in the Championship in their bid to reach the Premier League. After the success of fellow Welsh team Swansea City last year, the fans of the Bluebirds will want their team to achieve similar success. Cardiff's run in the cup this year has seen them overcome the likes of Blackburn Rovers, Leicester City and Huddersfield Town. The two legged semi-final against fellow Championship side Crystal Palace was welcomed by football fans as it guaranteed a Championship club into the final. Cardiff were the team that took the opportunity beating their opponents in a penalty shoot out which saw Palace miss three of their penalties. This will be the third time Cardiff will have played at the new Wembley with past occasions seeing them defeated in an FA Cup final and in the play off final of the Championship two years ago.

One to watch: Luis Suarez (Liverpool)
Liverpool striker Luis Suarez has been in the media spotlight continuinely for the last few months for the wrong reasons. Scoring two goals in his last two appearences, Suarez will want to carry on showing the footballing world why he is so highly rated. The Uruguayan has scored three goals in this years competition netting one against Exeter and two against Stoke. The first of two goals against the Staffordshire club will be one of the most memorable goals in this years competition. Suarez took the ball on the left side of the 18 yard box, nutmegged a defender and then unleashed a swerving shot over the keeper and into the far corner of the goal. This goal showed what Suarez is about and on his day he is one of the most dangerous players in the box. If selected, he will be on a big stage playing at Wembley and the opportunity to win the game for Liverpool.

One to watch: Peter Whittingham (Cardiff City)
After a slow start to his career, Peter Whittingham is now the heart of Cardiff City and will need to perform to his best if the Welsh team are to come out victors on Sunday. The former Aston Villa player has 10 goals and 12 assists in all competitons this season for Cardiff. His delivery from set pieces and his quality passing have seen Whittingham become one of the best players on the Championship.Whittingham is well know for his free kick ability, most notably his 35 yard effort he scored against Reading this season. Most recently Whittingham has been nominated in the category for Championship player of the year award. An award that is well deserved and if he wins the midfield battle on Sunday then the Welsh side will be well within a chance of victory.

For both teams and sets of fans this is a massive game. The opportunity to win silverware will be boosts for both clubs. The winners also get entry into next years Europa League and if Liverpool miss out on a Champions League place this year then the opportunity to play in the Europa League will be welcomed. There will be significant battles on the pitch most notably the midfield battle. With Steven Gerrard and Charlie Adam most likely to start for Liverpool, Cardiff will have to keep the ball in the early stages of the game otherwise they will come out second best. Kenny Miller normally plays as a loan striker for Cardiff and will struggle without support against a Liverpool defence that has been one of the best in the Premier League this season. Cardiff will go into the game as underdogs and if Liverpool play the way we know they can then the Premier League side will come out winners. If Cardiff get under the skin of Liverpool and not allow any space then the Bluebirds have it in them to beat their opponents.

Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Cardiff City

No comments:

Post a Comment