|By PAUL GOUGH
League Two battlers Bradford City are more than capable of withstanding what is expected to be an Aston Villa onslaught in the second leg of their League Cup semi-final on Tuesday to qualify for their first major final in over a century.
The Bantams, whose only major trophy was the 1911 FA Cup, have gone on one of the most astonishing runs seen by a lower English league team in decades to head into the second leg of their semi-final with a 3-1 advantage.
It has come after they eliminating two other EPL teams in Wigan in the fourth round and giants Arsenal in the quarter-finals - both by way of penalty shoot-outs.
Bradford started the competition at the maximum price of $1000 at Betfair but are now as short as $10.50 behind Swansea at $2.04, Chelsea at $4 and Aston Villa at $5.50.
Betting on the League Cup was turned on its head in the first leg of the semi-finals when Bradford scored a 3-1 home win over struggling EPL side Villa while in the other semi-final underdogs Swansea scored a 2-0 away win over reigning European and FA Cup champions Chelsea - with the second leg of that semi-final to be played on Wednesday night.
A Chelsea-Aston Villa final - a repeat of the 2000 FA Cup Final - was widely expected prior to the first leg of the League Cup semi-finals but now a Bradford-Swansea final is now more than just a remote outside possibility as Swansea bid for the first major trophy in their history.
|Aston Villa to win at $1.39, but Bradford to progress at $1.83 at Betfair
||Christian Benteke to score the first goal of the game at $4.40 at Betfair|
And while Villa - a dismal 17th in the English Premier League and are facing the possibility of relegation from the top flight for the first time since 1987 - are favourites to win the second leg on Tuesday, Bradford are the favourites to qualify for the final.
Villa should win the second leg at home and are the clear $1.39 favourites at Betfair and $1.35 at TAB Sportsbet to do so against Bradford, who are priced at $7 at TAB Sportsbet and a massive $10 at Betfair.
However, with Bradford leading 3-1 from the first leg, a Villa win by a single goal on Tuesday would not be sufficient to send the five-time winners of this competition through to the final.
Bradford's main concern in trying to defend their two-goal lead from the first leg will be stopping Villa's in-form Belgian striker Christian Benteke, and he looks good value at $4.40 to score the opening goal of the second leg.
But Villa will need a 2-0 win at a minimum to make it through to the final and have not won a game by two goals or more at home since mid-September.
And with Bradford likely to play virtually everyone behind the ball and defend for their lives, Villa may well struggle to get the goals they need to deny Bradford a fairytale Cup final appearance at Wembley.
* Note prices subject to change