Lucy Bronze: Time with Barcelona drives new kind of standard in England training

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Lucy Bronze feels her and Keira Walsh’s time with Barcelona has seen them “drive a different kind of standard” in England training.

Right-back Bronze and midfielder Walsh both left Manchester City and joined the Catalan outfit last summer, the former before and the latter after they helped England win the Euros.

They have subsequently been part of a Barca team that swept to a fourth-successive domestic league title and, last month, won the Champions League – something Bronze admits has given her and Walsh “massive confidence” heading into the World Cup that starts next week.

The 31-year-old said: “My role at Barcelona is different to what it’s been in previous teams.

“Every single Barcelona player only wants to play with the ball, so the responsibility of defending falls a lot more on my head than it does elsewhere, which is different to England.

“It’s given me a different outlook on how to play football. I think Keira is the same. And I think the pair of us drive a different kind of standard now at England training that has never been there before.

“I think we’ve been able to add that when we’ve come back into camps, not the style of play necessarily but the expectation and the kind of quality you expect from a team that wins trophies like Champions Leagues and playing with the best players in the world.

“(Winning the Champions League) gives myself and Keira massive confidence – it was her first, even being my fourth (after three with Lyon) it’s something that gives you a lot of confidence going into the World Cup.”

This summer’s showpiece in Australia and New Zealand will be a third World Cup for 105-cap Bronze, having previously played in two runs that ended in the semi-finals.

At Canada 2015 – where Bronze scored in last-16 and quarter-final victories, having what she describes as her “Chloe Kelly moment” – England went down to a 2-1 last-four loss to Japan, before securing third place.

And it was then the same score in the semis of France 2019 against the United States, the winners of both tournaments.

There was also a semi-final defeat to hosts and eventual champions the Netherlands at Euro 2017, before England claimed the first trophy in their history with last summer’s Euros triumph on home soil.

Bronze has spoken previously about having not watched the finals from those World Cups due to being “heartbroken”, a feeling she says she still has.

“(It’s) because every World Cup that I’ve played in, we’ve been so close,” Bronze said.

“The difference between us and the US on the day that we played them was a VAR decision, a penalty save. That’s two things in one game, it was crazy, crazy close.”

While she now has international silverware on her CV, Bronze has stressed her “mentality has always been the same – I think I’ve always known that I’ve been capable of being in an England team that could win something”.

On the United States, who England beat 2-1 in their most recent meeting, a Wembley friendly last October, Bronze added: “I don’t even think at the time (at the 2019 World Cup) there was a difference between us.

“I think they had a really good run of form in that tournament, similar to what we had in the Euros.

“I think that’s the way World Cups and Euros work, the team that’s in form tends to have, I wouldn’t say luck, but that slight edge.

“We had that over every team in Europe last year. I think the US had it in many tournaments before.

“Early on we’ll be able to see who is in good form and I don’t think it will just be the US and ourselves that people are talking about.

“There’s a number of teams with a lot of talented players and I think we’re with those sets of talented teams.”