Swansea Focus - Europe awaits Laudrup’s Swans
Wednesday 27 February 2013
Some might of said the game was won before it even began. After all, Swansea are a whole four divisions above fellow Capital One Cup finalists Bradford, but anything can happen in football - just ask Arsenal and Aston Villa, beaten by Bradford along the way.
The romance of the cup was not on Bradford’s side Sunday however. They looked fatigued and stunned by the occasion from the get-go - their first corner of the game came after 85 minutes, with their first shot on target coming in the 88th.
Swansea enjoyed 75% possession during the whole first-half, and despite the underdogs grabbing back a bit more of the ball after the restart, an early second-half goal for Michael Laudrup’s Swans sealed the game in the Welsh club’s favour with almost 45 minutes still to play.
Bradford were poor for the most part, but on the other hand, Swansea were astounding throughout the whole occasion - they were almost unplayable at times.
All the worrying weaknesses and defensive frailties exposed in the Liberty Stadium outfit’s 5-0 drubbing at Liverpool a week earlier were fully corrected in time for the Swans’ visit to Wembley.
Laudrup’s line-up was a bit of a shock to start with, but it worked a treat. Ki Sung-Yeung made a surprise move from his usual midfield role to a central defensive berth, with Michu up front and Nathan Dyer fronting the Swans’ attacking offering, with Ben Davies making a cup final start.
Swansea may be on an all-time high, especially with a Europa League campaign on the horizon for next season, but the concentration of Laudrup’s men needs make an immediate switch to the league. Relegation, although mathematically still possible, is completely out of the question, and breaking into the top four is looking hugely unlikely - but with only five points separating Swansea in ninth to Everton in sixth, the Swans surely must fancy their chances of nicking a sixth place finish come May.
The rest of Swansea’s season may be risk-free now, with a spot in Europe already sealed, and a comfortable mid-table finish almost guaranteed, but things are definitely not worry-free. The Swans have been one of the Premier League’s surprise outfits this campaign, with the Jacks quickly becoming the neutral’s favourite thanks to their slick-passing style of play, but all this admiration will inevitably lead to more interest in the summer transfer window.
Michu has gone from a near unknown player to almost a household name since joining Swansea from Rayo Vallecano in August 2012. Interest is undoubtedly going to be flying around him like wasps around jam come July. The same will surely go for Swansea veteran Leon Britton and star winger Nathan Dyer - both have proved themselves at every level they’ve played with the Swans, making them ideal targets for rival top-flight and European clubs in the transfer window.
The promise of Europa League football next season might just be the key to retaining the majority of Swansea’s players in the summer however, something that they would have found very tough to do if they hadn’t won the Cup final and snatched a European spot on Sunday.
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