Lucy Bronze: 'Lyon have a point to prove against Barcelona in the Champions League Final'

Lucy Bronze Column

In her exclusive column for GiveMeSport Women, England and Manchester City superstar Lucy Bronze discusses the Champions League Final and qualifying for next year’s tournament.

Who am I backing in the Women’s Champions League Final this weekend? My heart says Lyon, but my head says Barcelona.

As a former Lyon player, a lot of my good friends are still at the club. I’d love for them to win the Champions League, but Barcelona are probably in a better place as a team right now.

One thing’s for sure, Lyon will definitely have a point to prove. Everyone talks about Barcelona being the best team in the world, but what Lyon have achieved in recent years is incomparable to anyone else.

They have been the most dominant force in women’s football for the past decade, hands down. I think when people suggest otherwise they are being quite disrespectful.

As a result, Lyon will want to beat Barcelona and get back their bragging rights as the best team in Europe.

Players to watch

Ada Hegerberg is the obvious player to watch for Lyon, but for me, it’s Delphine Cascarino.

I played with her a lot on the right wing when I was at Lyon, and she’s probably the fastest player I’ve ever shared a pitch with. I currently play with Lauren Hemp, so that just shows how speedy Cascarino is!

She’s got the skills, and if she gets the final product right, she can be frightening. I think she can cause Barcelona a lot of problems on the counter and in defence.

Lyon star Delphine Cascarino

I’m going to go with another winger for Barcelona – Caroline Graham Hansen. I think she’s the most underrated player in the Barcelona team. She should have been up there with Alexia Putellas at the award ceremonies last year.

Graham Hansen is another pacy winger, with brilliant ball control, and is one of those players that can turn a game on its head. She’ll have an interesting matchup against Selma Bacha on the left-back side, though.

I think a lot of people will be talking about the midfielders, and household names such as Wendie Renard, but it’s the two players that go under the radar that you need to keep an eye on.

Barcelona star Caroline Graham Hansen

Qualifying for the Champions League

A lot of people wrote Manchester City off at the beginning of the season, especially when we were eighth at one point.

But I think for the second half of the season, we were unmatched in the performances that we put in.

There’s not many teams who had their backs against the wall as badly as City did. But we came out all guns blazing, and just went on that crazy run of winning games and scoring loads of goals.

In the end, we finished third quite comfortably. We weren’t really close to second, but we weren’t really close to fourth either. It was an exceptional run from the team.

It’s important that a club like Manchester City has Champions League status. It’s the competition that everyone wants to play in. It’s a test against the best players in the world, and it’s not an easy feat to go on and win it.

The tournament’s got even more competitive now a group stage has been introduced. Teams have the chance to play Lyon and Barcelona in the group stages, instead of being blown away in knockout matches.

Of course, these teams are still respected. But I think the increased opportunity to play the very best has reduced the fear factor.

Manchester City star Lucy Bronze

Real Madrid or Liverpool

I’ll be watching the men’s Champions League Final too, and I think that if Liverpool are at their best, they’ll win.

But Real Madrid are a team that just doesn’t give up. If Liverpool are slow to get out of the blocks, they could get punished, especially with Karim Benzema in such electric form. We saw that with Manchester City in the semi-finals.

Liverpool have got their focus on so many things at the minute, whereas Real Madrid are done and dusted in their league. So that could play a part in how the result goes.

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