The all-Championship first semi-final of the 2011/12 Carling Cup begins on the evening of Tuesday 11th January 2012, when the first leg of the two-legged knockout takes place between Crystal Palace and Cardiff City at Palace’s Selhurst Park.
The match, which kicks off at 20:00 GMT, will go some way to deciding which of these two clubs will line up in the Wembley final against either Manchester City or Liverpool, who play the first leg of their semi final on Wednesday evening.
Crystal Palace, tonight’s hosts, are hoping to name several players who were absent from the weekend’s FA Cup loss to Derby County, but the naming of manager Dougie Freedman’s squad has had to be delayed because of a sickness bug which affected several players in that Third Round match.
Palace, who have never lost to Cardiff in the League Cup – from three matches played – will be hoping to get a home result from this first leg, as their away record this season is relatively poor when compared with the form they have shown at home: they have lost seven away matches from thirteen played. Conversely, Cardiff have lost only twice on their travels in the league this season. With away goals all-important in two-legged ties, just who progresses from this one may well come down to whether or not Crystal Palace can shut out Cardiff tonight.
Cardiff have some form at Selhurst Park, too, where they have won twice out of their past three visits, so the Bluebirds will be hoping to return to Wales with an advantage following this first leg match.
With a handful of players sharing the goals at Cardiff City this season, and with the better of the two sides away form, the Bluebirds must be favourites to progress. But this is cup football and, more importantly, this is the League Cup. Form means nothing in cup football.
There’s a big prize for whoever comes through both legs of this tie as the winner, the result will not be decided in tonight’s first leg.
The second leg of this FA Carling Cup Semi-Final takes place on the evening of Tuesday 24th January 2012.