Much of the focus in the build-up to Wednesday’s biggest match in years has been devoted to how their opponents will combat the threat of Fernando Forestieri.
Hull City know first hand how difficult it is to shackle the diminutive forward.
Forestieri’s second ever Owls goal came in their 1-1 draw against the Tigers last October. In front of the TV cameras, he and Lucas Joao terrorised Hull’s backline in the first half of the derby.
Forestieri also featured prominently in the reverse fixture at the KC Stadium. The former Watford attacker came close to scoring on a couple of occasions before harshly seeing red in the dying minutes of the goalless draw.
There is no hiding the fact that Forestieri’s 15 goals have been vital in Wednesday’s march to the Championship Play-Off final. Quite often he has provided the spark or creativity in the final third when sides have set-up defensively against Carlos Carvalhal’s side.
At his press priefing earlier this week, Hull boss Steve Bruce revealed his admiration for Forestieri, describing the 26-year-old as “one of the outstanding players in the league”.
He said: “You have to say that he’s their talisman. He’s given a free role and he’s a good player.”
It is hard to argue with Bruce’s assessment that Forestieri is Wednesday’s star performer, but Ross Wallace, the hero of their semi-final win over Brighton and Hove Albion, is adamant the team are not overly reliant on one individual.
“We have more than one or two matchwinners,” Wallace told The Star. “We have got guys in midfield and up front who can come up with a bit of quality whether that be an assist or goal.”
Carvalhal, who has masterminded their promotion challenge, is delighted with the balance of the team.
He said: “We have created good dynamic between attackers and defenders. We defend and attack together as a team.
“Brighton created problems to us (in the second leg). We had to fight like a team to block them.”
Although Wednesday recorded their highest-placed league finish in 16 years, the bookmakers regard Hull as the favourites to win the showpiece Wembley fixture.
Nonetheless, Carvalhal remains confident his players can cause an upset in a match which has been billed as the biggest in world football. Should the Owls, who will be cheered in by over 39,000 fans, prevail, the club are expected to pocket a minimum of £170m.
Carvalhal, formerly of Sporting Lisbon, said: “If we don’t believe, who will? If we didn’t believe in what we are doing, we wouldn’t have achieved what we have done this season.
“We are the outsiders but being underdogs doesn’t mean we don’t have 50 per cent of the chances to win the game.
“We must believe we can do it and have give a strong message to the players that we can achieve it.”