As a number of Barcelona stars sunk to the ground, lost in the feeling of impotency, there was a distinct sensation of anti-climax for Jonatan Giraldez’s side. Barcelona Femeni had filled Camp Nou twice on what was supposed to be their way to a second Champions League victory straight, definitively confirming themselves as the most powerful team in women’s football. Yet there was something missing.
For large swathes of their 3-1 defeat to Lyon in the Champions League final, Barcelona dominated the game but Lyon proved sturdier, more lethal, more miserly. The Blaugrana had plenty of football and some great technicians in their side, but Lyon were all that with an iron edge added. Champions of Europe in 8 of the last 11 seasons, they are bona fide winners.
Giraldez will be hoping to knock Lyon off their perch again this season but it appears he too acknowledged that for all Barcelona do have, they lacked that edge. Barcelona have made four new signings but undoubtedly the is England’s Lucy Bronze.
Formerly of Lyon herself, Bronze won three Champions Leagues in France before returning to England and Manchester City. The Blaugrana couldn’t be more familiar with her talents, having been on the receiving end of 4-1 defeat in the 2019 final, which Bronze was in.
As if there were any further doubts about her pedigree, she’s recently been named in an all-time team of the Euros. Football Betting site Betway tasked two England legends Faye White and and Kelly Smith with constructing their All-time Euros XI and both were unanimous in picking Bronze. Praising her longevity and as much as her skill, her mentality, Bronze is the complete package at the age of 30.
All of that experience has been in evidence during this summer’s Euros tournament too, as Bronze has played a key role in England’s journey to the final. Despite coming up against some of the trickiest forwards in the game in Mariona Caldentey and Fridolina Rolfo, Bronze has still been a force in attack. In particular during the 4-0 semi-final victory over Sweden, it was Bronze who provided the assist for the opener, before getting the second goal herself.
As a team that is frequently pushing teams back on themselves, Bronze’s attacking prowess will fit Barcelona like a glove. Yet it’s the knife-edge moments that Bronze has been recruited for. Even though Barcelona have already been to the top in 2021, things fell their way during that tournament. When the going gets tough and Barcelona cross paths with a seemingly all-powerful Lyon, now they will be able to rely on arguably the greatest European right-back seem, as per Smith and White. The Blaugrana have plenty of quality, but now they might have the steel to hold firm in the face of their demons.