Capital One Cup Displays Best English Soccer Drama
Last week, two matches in the English League Cup, now known as the Capital One Cup, provided for some of the most entertaining soccer I have ever witnessed. Amidst all the normal league matches, cup-ties present the most intriguing version of the sport, as everything is on the line for this one single game. In the round of 16 of this tournament, Arsenal roared back from 4-0 down to defeat Reading 7-5, while Chelsea battled to a 5-4 victory over Manchester United. Both games featured last-gasp goals that sent the games into overtime. It was truly a fantastic spectacle to watch. So why is it that these games tend to be so much more exciting than typical soccer?
Naturally, any time teams face an all-or-nothing match the pressure increases ten-fold, and so does the excitement. In a similar fashion to that of the NCAA Basketball tournament, the Capital One Cup is filled with drama, including surprising upsets. Also, the players are typically not the best in the business, thus there are more errors and sloppy plays that often lead to goals. Now you may ask, well what about Arsenal and Chelsea? Well, since the Capital One Cup is seen as the least important trophy in English football, these teams rarely play their first team for such matches, usually resting them for other games. Although the backups wear the same jerseys, they are usually on the bench during league matches, and thus are extremely hungry to impress their managers. The tournament also provides an opportunity for youngsters to gain experience, so you get to watch the stars of the future.
For other teams, such as Bradford City and Leeds United, who have surprisingly reached the quarterfinals, the Capital One Cup represents their best opportunity to win some silverware. These clubs know that the major clubs aren’t playing their full squads, and so they aim for glory in the tournament. Just two seasons ago Birmingham City lifted the cup. What is most fascinating is that the tournament takes clubs from all levels of English soccer, ranging from the heavyweights of the English Premier League, to clubs like Bradford City, who play in League 2 (the fourth tier level of the sport). Thus, these clubs get to play against major teams and showcase their talent. Basically it is like a match between the New York Yankees and some minor league baseball team. What is most remarkable is that the lower clubs do often pull the upset.
And so I highly recommend that if you want to watch an exciting match that you tune into the Capital One Cup. It may not carry the same prestige as the UEFA Champions League, but it can often be far more pleasurable an experience to watch based on the games alone.
The quarterfinal round takes place on December 11th and the final will be in February as the tournament plays around the league season. Only two major clubs remain in the tournament in Chelsea and Arsenal, but a whole host of minor teams are eyeing cup glory as the Capital One Cup edges towards its sure-to-be dramatic finale.