Birmingham v Blackpool, agg. 0-1, 19:45
These two meet for the chance to go in as underdog against West Ham at Wembley, and that would suit either of the managers trying to gain some glory tonight. Chris Hughton has a record of succeeding against the odds, and after losing his job at Newcastle he has bounced back well at Brum, negotiating a tricky Europa League campaign with limited success and guiding his side to a late surge into the play-offs. Likewise Ian Holloway has nothing to lose, really, and can also rely on a few player who have already made this journey once, under him, and with some panache. The one-goal lead his side take in won’t hurt either, I’m sure.
Blackpool expect defender Ian Evatt to be fit for the game, despite a couple of knocks he has picked up of late. Roman Bednar resumed training ahead of last Friday’s game following a knee injury but is unlikely to feature. Blues keeper Colin Doyle should play after recovering from a knock he took to his shoulder at Bloomfield Road. Birmingham were flat in the first leg, and VictorChandler offer 7/1 on them losing by process of a 1-1 draw.
Atletico Madrid v Athletic Bilbao, 19:45
It’s a bit of an aberration if you believe all you read, but this season the Spanish sides from a bit further down the table have been brilliant in the Europa League, while the might of Real and Barca failed to make the final of the big boy cup. Maybe these sides spent so long hearing about how they couldn’t break the monopoly of Spanish football that they decided not to bother, but whatever has gone on for Bilbao and Madrid should be written down and studied, as some of their play has been nothing short of sublime on the way to reaching this final. Over the course of making it here they have defeated Valencia, Schalke, Sporting and Manchester United between them, and this is truly a clash between world-class sides.
Atletico Madrid defender Luis Perea has shaken off a thigh problem and is fit, as is captain Antonio Lopez, but Portuguese full-back Silvio will not return until next season. Gabi should start in midfield in place of the suspended Tiago, while Fran Merida is cup-tied. Athletic coach Marcelo Bielsa will revert to his strongest line-up after resting a number of players at the weekend. Defender Fernando Amorebieta has a minor calf problem and will be given a late fitness test, but strikers Iker Muniain and Fernando Llorente will return having been rested. Madrid are 2/1 favourites to win, and the 19/2 with VictorChandler on a 2-1 home win may be a nice price on that.