Carabao Cup Semi-Final Second Leg Preview
Who Will Make The Carabao Cup Final?
The second leg of the 2018/19 Carabao Cup semi-finals promises to be a pulsating, dramatic affair as cup final dreams become a reality. One semi-final sees Tottenham, a club bereft of silverware since 2008, take a 1-0 aggregate advantage to Stamford Bridge. Meanwhile, in the other semi-final, Burton Albion will be fighting to overturn a 9-0 deficit, by putting ten unanswered goals past the reigning champions of England, and the current favourite in the outrights betting.
Hungry City Back For Seconds
Clearly, the Burton comeback cannot possibly happen, even if City deploy a glut of reserves. Yet, with Pep Guardiola publicly stating that City would still be taking this tie `seriously', such an action appears to be far from his immediate agenda. Of course, that is not to say there won't be significant rotation. Phil Foden is likely to be the first name on Guardiola's teamsheet, with the young Englishman scoring in the first leg to put City 6-0 up after just 62 minutes of play.
With Foden being seen by many as a youngster who should feature more regularly in Guardiola's starting line-up, he will be by far the most motivated member of the shadow XI that travels to East Staffordshire on Wednesday. Oleksandr Zinchenko also got on the scoresheet in the first leg, and he too will want to stake as much of a claim as possible for a berth in the most competitive starting XI in Europe.
We'll also see 20 year-old rookie goalkeeper Arijanet Muric return between the posts for City, unless fellow academy graduate Luke Grimshaw gets the nod instead, having made just 18 Premier League 2 appearances. Dutch defender Philippe Sandler is likely to start at the back, having played 24 assured minutes in the 7-0 FA Cup win over Rotherham, and up front, 19 year-old striker Luke Bolton may also get a debut run out.
Now with nothing to lose in any domestic competition, Burton will pour forward and - either way - there is plenty of reason to believe there will be goals in this tie. For what it¿s worth, Burton have scored in ten successive home matches against senior squads, doing so to a winning end on five occasions. With five goals between them across their two league games either side of the first leg, Scott Fraser and Marcus Harness are the likeliest candidates to add some respectability to the aggregate scoreline.
The Battle of Stamford Bridge
The prospect of taking a slender 1-0 aggregate lead to Stamford Bridge would be daunting for the Tottenham of old. However, where Tottenham once struggled to get so much as a draw against Chelsea, there has been a very tangible 'power shift' from blue to white in terms of recent results alone.
In winning 3-1 at Stamford Bridge back in April 2018, Tottenham overcame one of the oldest hoodoos that exist between England's top clubs. That first win in SW6 since 1990 was the first of what is now a chain of three consecutive head-to-head wins for Tottenham. In both of their subsequent victories over Chelsea - albeit at Wembley - Mauricio Pochettino's charges have demonstrated different ways of beating Maurizio Sarri's band of Blues.
In the first meeting, when Tottenham strolled to a 3-1 league win back on 24 November, Pochettino's men dominated all the stats of consequence. Though they conceded 60% of the possession to Chelsea, their ability to close down and mark meticulously rendered Chelsea's ball-play redundant. In response, Tottenham were clinical, outscoring Chelsea 9-2 in terms of shots on goal, and 18-13 in overall goal attempts.
In the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-finals, Chelsea once again took a majority of the possession, but this time had more shots, passes and goal attempts than Tottenham, in addition to fewer bookings. Thus, in emerging 1-0 victors, Spurs demonstrated their ability to 'win ugly' when required, and will likely need to take a similar approach for the second leg.
Though Eden Hazard has endured a rather lean period since his brace at Watford back on Boxing Day, he is still the man that will figure largest in Pochettino's defensive playbook in midweek. Hazard was used as a makeshift goal-facing striker in Chelsea's outing at Stamford Bridge, which brought a laboured 2-1 win over Newcastle. The Belgian international looked oddly out of sorts in an unfamiliar role, and with ex-Gunner Olivier Giroud now very much an 'impact sub' for flashpoint games such as these, Tottenham know that this is a golden opportunity to reach the final.
Not unlike Chelsea, Tottenham could also be light up front unless there is drastic transfer activity in the meantime. Fernando Llorente is not the man Tottenham need to operate in Harry Kane's stead, and with Kane reportedly set to miss out until March, Pochettino must think outside the box to prevail.
Who Will Make The Final?
Chelsea's ability to win trophies versus Tottenham's inability to go all the way could yet have something of a psychological impact. Under Pochettino though, Tottenham have been all about smashing perceived barriers, and in that regard, it is interesting to note that Tottenham haven't completed a run of four consecutive wins over Chelsea since 1963.
With both sides suffering from minor crises up front, it could be a game of few chances. Quite safely, the same cannot be said for the other semi-final. City have the ability to beat Burton comfortably yet again, regardless of rotation. Ultimately, with Burton likely to throw caution to the wind, goal related spread betting markets are likely to be of interest for this mismatch.
Notably, just one goal will be enough to see City become the first club to hit double figures in the aggregate scoreline of a two-legged Football League Cup semi-final. In doing so, they will also beat the record they set in 2014 for the biggest EFL Cup semi-final aggregate win, when they thrashed West Ham 9-0 over two legs.
Will Man City go easy on Burton? Can Pochettino lead his men to another EFL Cup final and avenge the final defeat of 2015? Check out the latest Carabao Cup spread betting markets on Sporting Index!