LYON: England’s Lucy Bronze said the two years spent fine-tuning her talent at leading club side Lyon have helped her become one of the top stars in the women’s game as she prepares for today’s World Cup semi-final against the United States in her adopted home city.
Bronze is one of the focal points of Phil Neville’s English team who are hoping to reach a first ever World Cup final when they take on the holders in Lyon, the city Bronze has called home since moving to Europe’s dominant club from Manchester City in 2017.
“I think the player that I was two years ago, I had a desire to win and I’ve always had that competitiveness, but going to Lyon I had to change my game for the better,” Bronze said at a packed news conference yesterday ahead of the hotly anticipated semi-final.
The 27-year-old, whose goal in England’s 3-0 quarter-final victory over Norway was one of the highlights of the tournament, has won back-to-back French titles and consecutive Champions Leagues with Lyon.
The club who have been European champions six times in a row contributed seven members of the French World Cup squad, while Ballon d’Or winner Ada Hegerberg—missing from the tournament due to a dispute with her Norwegian federation—also plays alongside Bronze.
It is also the home of Germany’s Dzsenifer Marozsan, the midfielder who Bronze ranks as the best in the women’s game. “I have played with all the best players, all the superstars that are around in the world now, and I studied them. I wanted to get better on the ball, I wanted to get my technique better, and they are probably the reasons why I scored that goal the other night,” she said.
The full-back revealed she has received messages of support from her club, including from Gerard Houllier, the former Liverpool manager who has spent the last few years working as an advisor at Lyon. While admitting that she has not yet mastered French, Bronze has benefited hugely from the “world-class” players around her in the Lyon dressing room, notably star France defender Wendie Renard.
“She walks into a room and you just feel her presence,” Bronze said. “There is a lot of leadership. You’ve got Saki Kumagai, who is the Japanese captain, and I think that’s something that I’ve been asked to do more now at England and I’ve been able to learn off all these great captains from all over the world.”
‘DESTINED’ FOR THE FINAL?
From her position at right-back, today, Bronze will come directly up against USA star Megan Rapinoe, who scored all of her team’s goals in the wins over Spain and France in the last two rounds. Nevertheless, Bronze promised not to change her attacking style as England seek to make up for the disappointment of losing the 2015 World Cup semi-final to Japan. They also lost in the semi-finals of Euro 2017.
“It is an amazing achievement to be able to do it on a consistent basis, but we are short of that last step, we have still got that hunger,” said Bronze, who played alongside US star Tobin Heath during a stint at college level on the other side of the Atlantic a decade ago.
In contrast to England, while the USA are the holders, the Netherlands are the reigning European champions and Sweden reached the Olympic final in 2016. However, said Bronze, that could mean it was England’s turn.
“These are three teams who have reached finals in recent years, so we probably have that edge, we’re maybe more destined to go to a final in that respect.” – AFP