Benteke to prove his class
Christian Benteke should be backed to help Aston Villa to victory in Tuesday's Captial One Cup semi-final against Bradford, says our Andy Schooler.
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The Capital One Cup semi-final between Aston Villa and Bradford looks perfectly poised going into Tuesday's second leg at Villa Park.
The League Two side produced a highly impressive performance to win 3-1 at Valley Parade two weeks ago and are now slight favourites to eliminate their Premier League opponents and reach Wembley.
Yet there is still plenty of work to be done.
Villa have to attack so Bradford's defence will surely be worked hard. Indeed it was interesting to hear Paul Lambert, unprompted, mention after Saturday's draw with West Brom that his side needed to get out of the blocks quickly in this match.
It has to be remembered here that this is Premier League v League Two and on most such occasions the hosts would be fancied to win by two clear goals, as Villa need to do so to stay alive. It's worth noting at this stage that away goals only come into the equation after extra time so if Villa win 2-0, an extra 30 minutes will be played.
It has been easy to oppose Villa this season but they've had their moments. They've beaten Manchester City and Norwich to get to this stage and more recently have gained noteworthy points at both Swansea and West Brom. In the latter match on Saturday they should have had the game wrapped up by half-time which in many ways is a good sign given Lambert's talk of a fast start.
A poor home record has probably been Villa's biggest problem, but against lower-league opposition they have already crushed League One Tranmere 3-0 this season, while they also managed to see off Championship side Ipswich, albeit only 2-1.
Admittedly Bradford did deserve their win in the first leg but it should also be remembered that Villa created plenty of chances and only some poor finishing and some outstanding saves by Matt Duke prevented them from going into this game just a goal behind or even level.
Bradford would be foolish to retreat and look to defend their lead but it is difficult to know how their players will react on this big stage.
Their form isn't good - just two wins in 10 - while away from home is even more of a concern. Their record on the road is just one win from the last seven with 15 goals conceded.
Essentially Villa look the side to get with here, it's just about which market to turn to.
While not convinced they will progress - they've been too fragile defensively to back them that way - I do feel they'll score goals, possibly several.
And the man likely to be at the centre of their attacking play is Christian Benteke.
Whenever I've seen Villa this season, the Belgian has carried the most attacking threat and he showed his class with a majestic finish at the Hawthorns on Saturday.
That was his 10th goal of the season and he also takes penalties.
He may only be 5/6 to score at any time but there's still value in that price when you consider he's a high-quality striker going up against a side from the fourth tier.
Benteke went close on several occasions in the first leg and notably scored a brace at League One Swindon earlier in the competition.
If, like me, you fancy Villa to win the game you can boost the price to 6/5 and that looks the way to go.
- The match is being televised live in the UK on Sky Sports.