Bradford City stand on the brink of a shock Wembley appearance with Phil Parkinson’s men being tipped to go on the attack from the off during Tuesday night’s Capital One Cup semi-final clash against beleaguered Aston Villa.
The Bantams travel to Villa Park looking to protect a two-goal lead after beating Villa 3-1 in the first leg a fortnight ago and are 4/6 to reach next month’s final.
The League Two promotion hopefuls and are just one game away from reaching the home of English football for the first time since 1996 having enjoyed a fairytale cup run that has included victories over Arsenal and Wigan.
In the likes of Christian Benteke, Darren Bent and Gabriel Agbonlahor, Villa undoubtedly have the firepower needed to turn the tie around.
But a run of five defeats from the last eight games in all competitions means Paul Lambert’s young side could be facing a crisis of confidence as well as a relegation battle in the Barclays Premier League.
In contrast, City are revelling in their moment back in the spotlight and Bradford Telegraph & Argus sports reporter Ross Heppenstall expects them to pose Villa plenty of problems yet again following a gutsy performance against their top-flight opponents earlier this month.
“I think Bradford will play their normal game with two men up front and try and unsettle Villa,” Heppenstall told Ladbrokes.
“It worked a treat at Valley Parade and you wouldn’t bet against them nicking a goal at Villa Park. That could effectively take them to Wembley.
“Villa’s confidence must be fragile after their fairly woeful Barclays Premier League form. They have suffered some severe hidings this season and Paul Lambert’s young team struggled badly at Valley Parade.
“This time they will have the weight of an expectant Villa Park on their shoulders. The pressure is on Villa.
“It would be an incredible achievement if Bradford reached Wembley – one of the biggest in the history of English cup competitions.”
With 10 goals to his name in all competitions this season, Benteke could be the man to rescue Villa’s Capital One Cup hopes and is 3/1 to open the scoring.
Heppenstall added: “Benteke is a dangerous customer.
“He missed several chances at Valley Parade but he could easily have had a hat-trick. The fact that Villa created several chances will give them heart.”
Bradford’s preparations for one of the biggest games in the club’s history have been boosted after Parkinson reportedly rejected the chance to speak to Blackpool over the vacant managerial post at Bloomfield Road.
Heppenstall said: “Phil Parkinson has done a fantastic job this season and assembled a fine squad which is the envy of every League Two manager.
“The fact he snubbed Blackpool came as no surprise to anybody.
“He is on the brink of taking Bradford to Wembley and promotion – the club’s overriding objective – still remains a realistic prospect.”
Check out the latest odds and markets ahead of Tuesday’s game here.