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Lucy Bronze: ‘I never thought I’d have the chance to play at Nou Camp’

GiveMeSport Football

In her exclusive column for GiveMeSport Women, England and Barcelona star Lucy Bronze discusses playing at Nou Camp and her time in Spain so far.

Life is pretty good here in Barcelona! The sun’s shining every day, even right at the end of November. I’ve only just started wearing a coat.

I’m settling in well, and have started to pick up the language a little. I had a couple of niggles at the start of the season, but I think that was my body adapting to a new style of training. I’m feeling really good now.

It’s been a really dominant start to the season for Barcelona. We’ve won all nine of our matches so far, scoring 27 goals and conceding just two.

It’s an amazing team to be a part of. Everyone already knows the star players – Alexia Putellas, Aitana Bonmati, Irene Paredes, Mapi Leon, Sandra Paños – but there are so many younger and less well-known talents who are also incredible.

Adapting to a new football philosophy

Sure, Barcelona score a lot of goals, but I don’t think my play is any more attacking than in the past. I’ve been brought in as a security player, and I like that. I enjoy defending, and I like being physical and aggressive.

The philosophy here is different compared to back in England, and Keira Walsh and I have to re-adapt a little when we head back to the national team.

We have a fluid system at Barcelona – everyone picks up each other’s positions and players, and we just go with the flow of the game.

It’s more structured in England. Everyone’s given their space on the pitch, and that space has to be more or less occupied by that specific person.

I play high and wide for the Lionesses, and get to attack a lot. At Barcelona, I stay closer to the play, so I can help out if needed. Different philosophies are used, but I enjoy both of them. I’m learning and developing as a player with both teams.

Experience of playing abroad

My three years playing for Lyon in France came in very useful when I moved to Barcelona. I already knew what it was like to live in a different country, so it was less of a culture shock.

I’ve figured things out a lot quicker here, and I’ve settled in very quickly. The club now feels like home!

I spoke to Georgia Stanway about playing abroad when she was thinking about signing for Bayern Munich, although I think she was already set on it before our conversation.

Playing in a different country has taught me a lot, so I encouraged Georgia to go for it, and gave her a bit of advice.

I told her that if she wanted to challenge herself, she would have to be ready. It wouldn’t be as easy as just walking in and everything being the same as in England. There would be difficult aspects to it as well, like learning a language.

Georgia Stanway and Lucy Bronze at England trainingBURTON UPON TRENT, ENGLAND – APRIL 05: Georgia Stanway of England (L) and Lucy Bronze of England look on during a training session ahead of their Women’s World Cup qualifier match against North Macedonia at St George’s Park on April 05, 2022 in Burton upon Trent, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Champions League matches at Nou Camp

I never thought playing at Nou Camp would be a possibility when I was a younger player. When I did my signing and photoshoot there, I felt like the magnitude and history of Barcelona hit me. It was almost overwhelming.

To get to play at Nou Camp is pretty special. We’ll have to wait until the latter stages of the Champions League to get the really big crowds, but every group stage match is still going to be an incredible experience. Nearly 50,000 fans for our game against Bayern was awesome!

The Barcelona fans are some of the best in the world. We sell out the Johan Cruyff Stadium with around 5000 people for every match – the support is amazing. To multiply that and have 90,000 fans… I can’t even imagine what the atmosphere will be like.

When it comes to the Champions League, there’s quite a few contenders. Lyon have not got off to the best start, but that’s mainly down to injuries, and it would be silly to write them off.

Chelsea are up there, particularly because it’s the one title that Emma Hayes hasn’t won yet. Arsenal, Wolf…

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