The EFL Cup, now commonly known as the Carabao Cup as a sponsorship marketing event, is an inter-borough knockout football competition in professional men's domestic English soccer. It is also referred to as the “Cup” because of its association with the Carabao teams. The competition has been going for almost twenty years now and is enjoyed by a large number of people across the country. Although there are several teams who play in the competition, they are split into two conferences. This helps in providing a level playing field for all the teams, as no team in its league can be above a certain ranking from any other team in the same conference. Therefore, the Carabao Cup brings all the best teams from different regions of England together, which in turn provide entertainment for the fans.
For the most part, the name “Cup” was derived because of its origin in Portugal. However, the association with the national football association in Brazil eventually led to the tournament being named the “Carabao Cup”. In terms of the origins of the cup itself, it can be traced back to the Second World War when English teams would enter the tournament as substitutes for their combat troops. This served as an opportunity for the English teams to play against the Brazilian side and test out their skills. With the substitution rules changing in 1947, it began to be known as the Carabao Cup.
The first season of the competition was held between the West Indies qualifying group and the South American qualifying group. Despite the difference in level, the West Indians advanced to the semi final, beating the South American group 2-1. A further seven matches were played between the English groups, where a win would have taken them to the cup final. From there, the competition was wide open for everybody with qualification available from every country in the world.
Qualification for this season's competition is open to all nations up to and including the Republic of Ireland and Spain, although holders Portugal are yet to confirm their participation. As part of preparations for the tournament, a new format will be put in place which sees the top teams from each qualifying group automatically qualifying for the league cup final. This means that the lowest ranked teams in the tournament qualify for the league cup final, meaning that holders Portugal, for example, is unlikely to face off against holders England in the final. For some years now, the only way a team has been able to challenge for the title in this competition was by winning at the previous year's competition. Now that the rankings have been changed, qualifying from a lower division is enough.
The changes to the rankings were done through an upgrade of the current rankings system. This was first brought about through the introduction of a new system of computing the rankings by the results of previous seasons to see how each team performed. It was found that too many teams were getting byes and this artificially raising a team's chance of winning the Carabao Cup was then introduced. There have been mixed results regarding this, with some sides benefitting from the new system while others have suffered.
In addition to this, due to the popularity of the Portuguese football league, there is also a possibility that the potential champions who currently qualified via the knock-out stage may now be overlooked in their quest for the coveted championship title. Should this occur, then last-placed teams will now be given an opportunity to play in the Carabao Cup final against teams from other leagues. Should this scenario occur, it is quite possible that a team may emerge as the winner of the league cup but only after playing three lower league teams in the form of reserves. Should a fourth team to be invited to play in the competition, then the scenario is likely to be played out in the Carabao Cup final itself.
One other minor change has been made to the way that the Carabao Cup is presented. Up until recently the competition was decided between the top four finishing teams in each league. However, due to pressure from international football, governing clubs have decided that the top two finishers in the league cup represent the automatic qualification for the next season's top four. It has therefore been decided that the top two teams will now progress to the final round of fixtures, where they will face teams from the other conferences.
As usual, the holders of the Carabao Cup are ineligible to participate in the European qualification process. Instead, they will take part in the Intertoto Cup, which is composed of the countries that finished second, third and fourth in their respective leagues. This is a much tougher tournament than the previous Carabao Cup, but the real draw is that this offers hardaker clubs a chance to showcase their talents on a European stage. Only the champions of the Intertoto Cup and Carabao Cup can qualify for the prestigious EURO 2021 finals, which are due to take place in Switzerland. Should the hardakers win the tournament, they will be guaranteed a place at the Olympic Games in Paris, something which is certainly a huge boost to the image of the sport in Brazil. The Carabao Cup also offers hardaker clubs a chance to reward their loyal following by winning the trophy for the most number of times.