Swansea City boss Michael Laudrup looks to seal place at Wembley
MICHAEL Laudrup has told Swansea City they must do more than just defend against Chelsea tonight as he bids to give his players a "unique" taste of a major final.
Swansea head into the Capital One Cup semi-final second leg as favourites to pull off one of the greatest feats in their history by getting through to Wembley.
If they can finish the job against the European champions, Swansea will be through to the first major final in their 101-year history.
Laudrup is a serial finalist, having landed a string of medals during his sparkling playing career and had success as a coach.
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Laudrup the player won cups in Spain and Holland as well as the European Cup with Barcelona, while as a coach he has been to finals with Brondby — where he enjoyed two victories — and Getafe.
"I have had three finals as a manager and I played in seven or eight, and I know it's fantastic to be part of that special atmosphere," Laudrup said.
"Normally you play home or away, but in a final it's 50-50 in the stadium and it's special.
"Not many of my players have experienced that, and I really hope they can try that because it's unique.
"It's important for me that we get through, of course, but this game is most important to me because I know how important it is for everybody else.
"I don't want to brag, but I have been there.
"But I know how important to everybody else this is — to the fans and to the club — and that's why it's important to me as well."
Swansea were heavy underdogs to progress when they were paired with Chelsea in what is only the third semi-final the club have ever reached in one of the major competitions.
But their remarkable 2-0 success at Stamford Bridge a fortnight ago means Swansea are now favourites to get through in the eyes of the bookmakers.
Laudrup dismisses that idea, saying: "Let's see, they won the Champions League last season, so I don't think so."
The Swansea manager admits his team must brace themselves for some hairy moments tonight as they attempt to build on their first-leg triumph.
But he also stresses that Swansea will be playing a dangerous game if they set out only to protect what they have.
"Chelsea are maybe the best away team in the country," Laudrup added. "They have scored a lot of goals away from home and they have many individuals who can hurt you.
"We have to be very careful when we go forward because they are so good on the counter-attack.
"But if you look at our home games against the big teams this year — Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool — I think you will see something similar tonight.
"They all ended in draws, so a repeat would be good.
"I cannot tell the players that we don't start the game 2-0 up, but we cannot think only about defending otherwise things will be very difficult for us.
"The players have to have in their minds that we are playing at home and we will go out looking to score a goal.
"How will Chelsea approach the game? I don't know whether they will go all out to attack us from the start or just try to control the game, get the first goal and then look for the second.
"I have to try to see what they are doing and then try to find a way to give them problems."
Among Laudrup's last words to his players this evening will be a reminder that they must stay calm despite the magnitude of the occasion.
"I don't need to tell the players about the importance of the game," he said.
"To be honest, I think it may be the other way round.
"I would turn it around and tell them just to do their best and let's see if it's good enough. They won't need any motivation."
Laudrup, meantime, says Swansea's search for transfer window reinforcements goes on — but he has other things on his mind.
"The club are always working, like every other club I imagine, but I am not thinking about the transfer market today," he said.
"I don't know what's going to happen. We will just have to see before January 31."