There’s nothing that any team likes more than picking up silverware and for four teams remaining in the Carabao Cup, they will each have dreams of lifting the famous trophy in the final in a couple of months time, if they can progress from this two-legged semifinal first. Manchester City, Manchester United, Leicester and Aston Villa are the four teams remaining in with a chance of glory.
Manchester City are the current holders of the trophy and if they win it again this year it will be the third year in a fow and their fifth win in seven seasons in the tournament. Manchester United have also been recent winners, landing the victory in 2017, but Leicester’s last win in the final was back in 2000 when they beat Tranmere Rovers 2-1. Aston Villa last lifted the trophy way back in 1996, defeating Leeds 3-0 in the final at Wembley.
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The Carabao Cup semifinals are contested over two legs, each team playing once at home. The first legs are played on the 7th and 8th January this week, with the second legs played three weeks later on the 28th and 29th January. Let’s now take a look at the first leg games this week.
Carabao Cup Semifinals 1st Leg
Tuesday 7th January
Manchester United v Manchester City (8pm)
Road to the Final
- 3rd Round – v Rochdale (H) – D 1-1 (W 5-3 on penalties) – Greenwood 68
- 4th Round – v Chelsea (A) – W 2-1 – Rashford 25 (pen),73
- Quarterfinals – v Colchester (H) – W 3-0 – Rashford 51, Jackson OG 55, Martial 61
If anything, Manchester United have improved throughout the tournament after an unconvincing and heavily criticised penalty win over Rochdale, they played superbly to knock out Chelsea in Round four and then produced a fine second half display to despatch Colchester in the quarterfinals. The Red Devils have generally played a strong team throughout the tournament with just a couple of players rotated in from the fringes of the squad.
Against City though I can see United picking as strong a team as possible, though I would still expect Romero to start in goal. I can see McTominay coming into midfield and United also playing with James, Rashford and Martial as their attacking trio, who caused City so many problems in the Premier League game between the teams a few weeks back.
Predicted Man Utd Team – Romero, Young, Shaw, Tuanzebe, Maguire, McTominay, Matic, Mata, James, Rashford, Martial.
- 3rd Round – v Preston (A) – W 3-0 – Sterling 19, Jesus 35, Ledson OG 42
- 4th Round – v Southampton (H) – W 3-1 – Otamendi 20, Aguero 38,56
- Quarterfinals – v Oxford Utd (A) – W 3-1 – Cancelo 22, Sterling 50,70
City have made relatively straightforward progress in this competition, which they are seeking to win for a third year in a row. However, in Manchester United they are facing a level of opponent that is much greater than they have faced in the tournament so far and as such, I can see Pep Guardiola naming a stronger than usual team for this game.
I do think youngsters like Garcia in defence and Foden in midfield will continue and I can see Claudio Bravo playing in goal, but other than that, I think Guardiola will want his fit first team players available for this game and as such I would expect to see the likes of De Bruyne, Sterling, Bernardo Silva and De Jesus all start.
Predicted Man City Team – Bravo, Walker, Zinchenko, Garcia, Otamendi, Fernandinho, De Bruyne, Foden, Silva.B, Sterling, De Jesus.
The second leg of this game will be played Wednesday 29th January at 7.45pm
Our Top Tips
- Manchester City to win – 13/20
- Man City to win and both teams to score – 9/2
- Raheem Sterling to score at any time – 5/4
Wednesday 8th January
Leicester City v Aston Villa (8pm)
Road to the Final
- 2nd Round – v Newcastle Utd (A) – D 1-1 (W 4-2 on pens) – Maddison 34
- 3rd Round – v Luton Town (A) – W 4-0 – Gray 34, Justin 44, Tielemans 79, Iheanacho 86
- 4th Round – v Burton Albion (A) – W 3-1 – Iheanacho 7, Tielemans 20, Maddison 89
- Quarterfinals – v Everton (A) – D 2-2 (W 4-2 on pens) – Maddison 26, Evans 29
It has been a case of away day joy for Leicester City in this tournament so far with penalty victories over two Premier League opponents on the road, as well as two comfortable wins on the road against lower league opponents. The Foxes have rested some key men in the easier of those fixtures, but generally Brendan Rodgers has picked very strong teams for all the games so far in the competition.
With this being a great chance for the Foxes to reach a domestic final, I expect them to pick a very strong team for this game, as such I expect key men in midfield like Tielemans, Maddison, Ndidi and Jamie Vardy in attack all to start. Wes Morgan may continue in central defence in place of Soyuncu as he has in earlier rounds of the competition.
Predicted Leicester City team – Schmeichel, Ricardo, Chilwell, Morgan, Evans, Ndidi, Tielemans, Maddison, Barnes, Albrighton, Vardy.
- 2nd Round – v Crewe Alexandra (A) – W 6-1 – Konsa 4, Hourihane 24,45, Davis 69, Guilbert 76, Grealish 87
- 3rd Round – v Brighton (A) – W 3-1 – Jota 22, Hourihane 33, Grealish 77
- 4th Round – v Wolves (H) – W 2-1 – El Ghazi 28, Elmohamady 57
- Quarterfinals – v Liverpool (H) – W 5-0 – Hourihane 14, Boyes OG 17, Kodjia 37,45, Wesley 90
It’s not unrealistic to say that some of Aston Villa’s best performances of the season have come in this competition, Four good wins, three against Premier League opponents and a 6-1 thumping of Crewe have seen Dean Smith’s side make it into the semifinals of the tournament that they last won back in 1996.
Admittedly, they did face a massively below strength Liverpool U21 team in the quarterfinals, but the wins over Brighton and Wolves were excellent and richly deserved and they will certainly prove to be a tough test for Leicester in this game, although they will count the cost of three key men, Wesley, McGinn and Heaton, all missing out through injury.
Predicted Aston Villa Team – Nyland, Elmohamady, Taylor, Chester, Mings, Luiz, Hourihane, El Ghazi, Grealish, Kodjia, Trezeguet
The second leg of this game will be played on Tuesday 28th January at 7.45pm
Our Top Tips
- Leicester City to win – 4/11
- Leicester City to win and both teams to score No – 11/8
- James Maddison (Leicester) to score anytime – 13/10.
*All odds shown were correct with bet365 Sport as of 12.15pm on Monday 6th January 2020.