By Christian Radnedge LONDON (Reuters) – Winning the European Championship has taken some of the pressure off England going into the Women’s World Cup, full back Lucy Bronze said, despite the Lionesses being touted as one of the teams to beat in the tournament. England won their first major title last year on home soil, […]
Soccer-Pressure off England going into World Cup after Euros win, says Bronze
By Christian Radnedge
LONDON (Reuters) – Winning the European Championship has taken some of the pressure off England going into the Women’s World Cup, full back Lucy Bronze said, despite the Lionesses being touted as one of the teams to beat in the tournament.
England won their first major title last year on home soil, overcoming Germany in the final at Wembley and are looking to improve on their semi-final runs at the previous two World Cups when this year’s event takes place in Australia and New Zealand in July-August.
Bronze, in action for Barcelona in their Champions League final against VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday, said that instead of feeling like England had a target on their backs now, the squad would be more relaxed and could even emulate the record of reigning champions and four-time winners the United States.
“I think every tournament I’ve been part of after 2015, it was like an expectation that England should be making finals and winning, even though it’s something we’ve never experienced before,” Bronze told Reuters in a Zoom interview.
“Whereas now we’ve been there, we’ve done that we’ve won a trophy. We’ve done it… So the pressure of being of having to win something, it’s probably not there as much.
“I think that’s something that the U.S. has always helped them in, especially the previous World Cup, where they came up against tough teams. Their experience of knowing how to deal with the pressure and knowing how to win in big games, saw them lift the trophy in the end,” the 31-year-old added.
“So I think our experiences are invaluable in that respect and probably takes a little bit of pressure away.”
Sarina Wiegman’s England, who have only lost one game in 31 under the Dutchwoman, begin their World Cup campaign against Haiti in Brisbane on July 22 and also face Denmark and China in their group.
The coach revealed her squad for the tournament on Wednesday and much of the coverage focused on the players missing, with Euros golden boot winner Beth Mead and captain Leah Williamson among those sidelined through injury.
However, Bronze was confident the Lionesses had the adequate squad depth to spread the load.
“We’re missing a few players through injury, sadly, some key players, but I think it’ll just give the chance for people to step up in different positions,” she said.
“We’ve got an exciting team… And hopefully we can make the final. I think that’s the one thing that we’re missing in England is a World Cup final (appearance).”
Before joining up with her international team mates later this month, Bronze has the chance to help Barcelona win their second Champions League title in three years in Eindhoven on Saturday.
The Liga F champions, who Bronze joined last year, will be up against a strong Wolfsburg side looking for their first Champions League title since 2014.
However, Bronze is no stranger to performing on the biggest stage and shares her preparation tips in a UEFA #WePlayStrong and Gatorade Sports Science Institute-backed ‘Skills? Sorted’ series on YouTube.
The defender said she was feeling good after having surgery five weeks ago to repair a small injury and that her team mates were all itching to be in the starting XI.
“I think our manager’s (Jonatan Giraldez) biggest problem is leaving people out, because we’ve got such good players in the team, that we could probably start probably 16, 17, 18 different players in the starting eleven.
“But I know that whatever team we put out, it’s going to be a strong team and put up a good game against Wolfsburg.”
(Reporting by Christian Radnedge, editing by Pritha Sarkar)