In her exclusive column for GiveMeSport Women, England and Manchester City superstar Lucy Bronze discusses today’s Continental Cup Final against Chelsea.
There’s a joke going around that Manchester City always plays Chelsea in the semi-finals of competitions, and it’s kind of true! I don’t think we’ve ever played them in a final before.
I’m excited that’s changing this weekend with the Continental Cup Final. Two of the best teams in the country, in front of an amazing sell-out crowd – it’s going to be incredible.
The Manchester City supporters may well be outnumbered seeing as we’re playing in London, but if the crowd are against us, we can use that as motivation. If they’re with us, we can use that as motivation as well! It’s just about finding the positive side of things.
With Chelsea, the defenders like to defend and the attackers like to attack. That sounds silly, but it’s very different to the way we play at City.
We have a way of pressing from the front and playing out from the back. A lot of our attacking play starts from the defenders coming up the pitch with the ball.
In comparison, at Chelsea, the defenders love to defend and they love getting rid of the ball. The attackers feed off anything they get, and rely on a good relationship between the front three, or the Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby pairing.
So, I think they’ve got a very different dynamic to the way that we tend to play our football at City, which probably makes for more of an entertaining game. It will be two different styles of play going up against each other.
I think Chelsea’s key player will be their goalkeeper, Ann-Katrin Berger. She always has the game of her life against City, and she’s currently in really good form.
I know people will talk about Chelsea’s attacking and defensive stars, but I think Berger’s the real key to their success.
Manchester City’s form
Everyone’s raving about Lauren Hemp at the moment – she’s so pacy and causing nightmares for defenders across the Women’s Super League.
But in terms of the way we play, Keira Walsh will probably be the key player for us this weekend. She’s in incredible form at the moment as well, and was probably player of the tournament with England at the Arnold Clark Cup.
So, we’ve got a couple of team members in excellent form at the moment, and I think we’ve definitely recovered from the disappointing start of the season.
But equally, I don’t think we’re quite at the same place as we were last year. I always think about last season’s match in the Champions League when we beat Barcelona at home, and how well we played.
No one else beat Barcelona last year, and that shows just how high our performance was. So we’ve still got a way to go to build ourselves back up to the form of last season.
Importance of winning the Continental Cup
I think winning a trophy would go a long way to helping us find the form we had last year. It would help us to push on and win even more matches, and give us such a big boost in confidence.
Ultimately, people judge seasons based on the number of trophies won, and we know that we’re a team that should be competing in cup finals and winning trophies. We want to prove that we can do that, especially after such a disappointing start to the season.
Winning this weekend will be even more significant as it will require overcoming Chelsea. Lifting the trophy will mean a lot because we’ll have to beat a very good team to get there.
Maybe the FA Cup has more history and prestige, but we’ll take just as much pride in lifting the Continental Cup.