|Swansea City 0 v 1 Cardiff City|
Saturday, 20th March 2021 Kick-off 17:30
Swansea City will make football history this weekend
Friday, 19th Mar 2021 11:20 by Keith Haynes
It’s the eve of the South Wales derby, the biggest fixture in Welsh football, the hardest ninety minutes of any game these players will be involved in this season both mentally and physically. The coolest minds, the most collective mindsets, the ability of each player, the belief in themselves and the desire to win for a whole city are the qualities required. And Swansea City have them all. In abundance.
The partisan voices from both sides won’t budge an inch for this fixture, you can have Messi in a white shirt and the opposition will say their player is better. The saying though that all form goes out of the window is easily explained. We can have a look about that later. Steve Cooper has all the experience gained from his time at Swansea and most of all unlike his rival manager a real understanding of what this fixture is all about. Alongside him he has Mike Marsh who has experienced the biggest of derby games between Liverpool and Everton, and indeed Manchester United. And just to add to the tale Alan Tate knows a little bit about these games as well. Just a bit.
Alan Tate, he knows exactly what is at stake
That gives the swans the first edge in this weekends game, a collective mindset to understand what this game is all about, and then make it stick in the players minds. A fantastic start in ensuring the swans have every chance before the game to know exactly what the derby means. It’s the first tick in the box. Of course it’s the players that matter the most on the pitch, their ability to have that self belief that will set them apart from their opponents. Across the swans side there are academy graduates, players who have come through the ranks as such, not huge amounts but enough to know what this game is all about. Conner Roberts and Ben Cabango for starters, two lads who are from opposite sides of the South Wales divide but both united in a common cause. Victory for the swans. On the bench and throughout the club you will find local talent and players brought in who have had this game imprinted on their minds from the first time they walked on the grass with a football at any level. Captain Matt Grimes has been at the club for six years, no better a position to be in than to hold the captains arm band, and have that amount of experience of the rivalry over those years. He has had this rivalry ingrained in to him. He will know as much as anyone what this game means.
As captain he has already acknowledged this “When I first came to the club, the derby – and the history of it – were among the first things that I was told about,” he said. “Obviously, it took me a while to get to play in one, I didn’t play in one until last season, but we are aware of the significance just by talking about it as a squad. “When you see supporters they always mention it to us, and it is devastating that they won’t be able to be with us on Saturday. But it is a game for the fans, and we want to make them proud. It’s a game that stands by itself because of what it means to everyone in the city. There is a bigger picture in terms of the season as a whole, but come Saturday all the focus is on one thing. “We have a chance to make history, and you want to be on the right side of that little piece of history. “We just know how much the city and club means to the fans and what this game means to them. Even if you have been here for just two or three games, everyone knows the importance of it.”
An education in Welsh football history for Matt Grimes
Individual ability wins these game, no doubt. Jamal Lowe in the last fixture scored a sublime goal, one you would find hard to better in its execution and calmness. It will most certainly come down to ability, it isn’t even a question, In Conor Hourihane the swans have a match winner, regardless of his all round game at Swansea, and there are critics, he could win this game for the swans. We’ve mentioned Jamal Lowe, but the real catalyst in this game relays firmly on the shoulders of Andre Ayew. Admired by many fans of the game and managers he is the key, the real game changer. And this is why. It couldn’t come at a better time, Ayew’s non inclusion for the next three international games is a serious boon for Swansea City. He knows now, he can push himself to the absolute limit, after this game he has time for serious recovery and relaxation. No competitive fixtures for nearly two weeks, no concerns about isolation, this game could be the one every swans fan across the world remembers him for.
With a solid defence and midfield that operates as we know it can, and did in the last fixture we could see history in the making. Much has been made of this over the years. No side has done the double in any season over each other in nearly sixty matches. A surprise ? We don’t think so, when these two rivals meet they are obviously in the same league, the standards both are at when these fixtures come around is pretty level when you include the derby factor. All form doesn’t go out of the window but the derby factor levels things out for two sides in the same league, that’s the clue. Once again the swans have an opportunity to do the double on their rivals. Cooper has a tremendous unbeaten record since he took charge at the Liberty in these games. He knows as much as anyone what a win would mean and what it takes. For that reason alone Swansea City will win this game on Saturday evening and make football history. There, Ive said it.
All the ingredients are there for a classic, it can’t be anything else, for the neutral a bore draw is just that, for those involved it’s still a nail biter, that sickening feeling in the gut will be there still, that’s what this game means. So, it’s over to you Swansea City, your time is here.
Words come easy at times though, no matter which side you are on. If anything can be taken from the last year the headache of fans at this game is removed, the logistical nightmare is no more, for now. It’s just a different type of nightmare for the loser.
The game will be shown LIVE on Sky Sports kick off time is 5.30pm UK time
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