This weekend, we see two football teams; battle it out in their national cup, as massive underdogs. Little to no hope is being given to them; thrashings are expected in both games. The oppositions have superior players, a lot more money, generally are the better teams. But there is a chance to prove everyone wrong, to be the heroes, to do the unthinkable.
The FA Cup Final, Chelsea v Portsmouth at Wembley. Chelsea featuring the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba, coming off the back of an 8-0 thrashing of Wigan and a Premier League title. Portsmouth are struggling to even get their best player this season fit, after finishing dead last in the league, over £100 million in debt and currently in administration.
North of the border, Hampden Park sees an unusual line up, Dundee United v Ross County. Over a league separates the two teams. Dundee United are also heading for the Europa League while Ross County are staying in the First Division.
Portsmouth and Ross County are both massive underdogs, neither are expected to get anywhere near a victory. But both teams have earned the right to get to the final.
Pompey, on the route to Wembley, beat other Premier League opposition in the form of Sunderland, Birmingham City and possibly the biggest upset, Tottenham Hotspur. They weren’t given a hope against Spurs, as I should know. But they scored when they needed too, defended excellently, and earned a place in the FA Cup Final against Chelsea.
But my favourite tale is of Ross County, situated deep in the Scottish Highlands and a stadium with a capacity of just over 6,000. Yet despite all of this, in their six games in this years Scottish Cup, they have scored a massive 24 goals. That is exactly four goals a game, including a 9-0 demolishing of Stirling Albion, as well as the scalps of Scottish Premier League big boys, Hibernian and Celtic.
And they certainly didn’t luck their way past Celtic, they out performed them, deserving of both of the goals. And while interim Celtic boss Neil Lennon could only look on at a trophy-less season for the club, The Stags are still dreaming of Cup success and some famous away days in Europe.
But this isn’t the first time a plucky, little team has overachieved in the Scottish Cup. In 2008, Queen of the South met Rangers in the final. And Queen of the South certainly gave Rangers an excellent match, with a Kris Boyd strike twenty minutes from the end ruining any Cup dreams, eventually losing 3-2 in the end.
Queen of the South still managed to make it into Europe however, but fell short in the UEFA Cup 2nd Qualification Round against FC Nordsjælland, losing 4-2 on aggregate.
Europe is place that Portsmouth will be unable to enter next season, after not sending in a UEFA license in time for the 2010-11 season. But both Portsmouth and Ross County will be going out for victory, neither team has anything to lose; both teams have made a massive achievement in just getting to the final. There is a massive chance both teams will end up on the wrong side of a hiding tomorrow. But one thing is for certain, the 11 players of Portsmouth and the 11 players of Ross County will be going for the win, to do the unthinkable, to dream the impossible dream.