Crystal Palace take on Cardiff in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-finals tonight, with Malky Mackay’s side the likelier to make the final
The thought of playing at Wembley must have been on the minds of most players from Crystal Palace and Cardiff City over the festive period as one of these sides will grace the turf at the home of football in the Carling Cup final this season (Crystal Palace 17/10, draw 23/10, Cardiff 8/5 at Betfred
These two Championship teams are currently preparing for the first leg of their semi-final encounter on Tuesday, when the Bluebirds and their fans make the trip across the Welsh border to take on the Eagles at Selhurst Park.
Cardiff go into this game having been unable to imitate their Carling Cup form in the FA Cup as they crashed out in the third round of the competition with a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Premier League outfit West Brom last weekend.
The Bluebirds welcome back veteran defender Kevin McNaughton for the trip to the capital with the versatile player returning to action after three matches out with a calf strain.
Cardiff managed to beat Blackburn Rovers in the quarter-final of the competition to reach the final four and they ultimately sacrificed their hopes of continuing in the FA Cup by resting players for this game against the Eagles.
Crystal Palace manager Dougie Freedman is expected to make a host of chances after employing the same tactic as his opposite number on Tuesday – Malky Mackay – by playing a weakened side in their 1-0 FA Cup defeat against Derby County.
A host of unnamed players have come down with a bug this week which has delayed Freedman naming his squad that will look to take down a Bluebirds’ side who have lost just one game in their last 13 in the Championship.
The last time these two sides met was back in November and it was Mackay’s men who came out on top, with a 2-0 victory at the Cardiff City Stadium as their star men came to the fore.
Scotland striker Kenny Miller (6/1 First Goalscorer) and Peter Whittingham were on target for the home side that day and they will once again be a threat for Palace on Tuesday in what should be open game.
The Eagles have threats of their own with Wilfried Zaha (8/1 First Goalscorer) becoming a highly rated player at Selhurst Park and looks set to cause the Cardiff defence problems.
Darren Ambrose who scored the wonder strike to put Palace through to the last four of the Carling Cup is another standout player, as his goal knocked out Premier League champions Manchester United at Old Trafford in the upset of the tournament this season.
This should be a close encounter as Palace have come on leaps and bounds this term under the leadership of Freedman.
However Cardiff are in fine form and with their decent record at Selhurst Park – having lost just once on their last five visits, they should take a lead back to Wales for the second leg.