Thursday, December 3, 2020
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‘Bronze close to England’s greatest’

Lyon's Izzy Christiansen

England and Everton midfielder Izzy Christiansen played alongside Lucy Bronze at Lyon during the 2018-19 season, where she won the Champions League, Division 1 Feminine and Coupe de France.

Lucy Bronze signed a three-year contract with Lyon when she left Manchester City and she would have been looking to win three Champions League titles in that time. She’s ticked all the boxes.

She’s won everything domestically and those Champions League trophies are the big ones. She will have been delighted to have won her third in a row last month.

The next step for Lucy, now she’s returning to Manchester City, would be to win the Champions League again with an English team.

Helping to drive the England national team to success in a major tournament is also another step. Lucy functioning at 100% is the best possible scenario for an England team to go on and win a trophy.

Lucy Bronze wins BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year 2020

I think Lucy is getting close to former striker Kelly Smith’s status as the greatest England player of all time.

What Kelly did in the English game, at a time when it wasn’t fully professional, was remarkable. She was an unbelievable talent.

Lucy is different. She is the epitome of a modern footballer.

The margins between a good and a great player are very small in detail. Lucy will be one of the first to admit she isn’t the most talented player with the ball at her feet but she is an incredible athlete and defender.

She has adapted her game to suit those strengths. Unless you’ve trained with her regularly like I have, you wouldn’t be able to tell she doesn’t have huge confidence in her technical ability – but she should have.

Her ability to dribble with the ball at speed is like that of an attacking player but she is coming from right-back with the ball. That’s her trademark. The way she has brought that to her game, adapted and progressed at Lyon, has been massive.

Champions League – 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20 Coupe de France Feminine – 2019, 2020
Division 1 Feminine – 2017-18, 2018-19, 2019-20 Trophee des Championnes – 2019

When I signed for Lyon in 2018, the level of play just went up another notch. That for me is why they are the best – the level of training, the level of play and the ability of players in the squad make it so competitive.

When there was an influx of English players like myself, we thought the way to become the best was to increase our physical capacity. I was shocked by the lack of attention to detail in that area.

I couldn’t figure out what it was that made them so successful because they did so little in terms of training and gym work. But in 2019, just after the World Cup, when we returned to pre-season with Lyon, they had appointed a new sports scientist.

His attention to detail, his enthusiasm and his passion for the game and the girls’ physical preparation, is beyond what I have ever seen before. Working with him was a dream.

‘You want to build the team around Lucy’

Lucy Bronze
Lucy Bronze has won three successive Champions League trophies with Lyon – 2018, 2019 and 2020

Lucy is returning to City with that three years’ experience and I think she has grown as a person.

After being with her at Manchester City, and then for 18 months at Lyon, I definitely saw the most confident Lucy in France. 

I wouldn’t say Lucy has ever lacked in any area but there were players who were technically better than her when she was first at Manchester City between 2014 and 2017.

Her physical attributes – which are probably the best in the game – make up for her technical attributes not being her number one strength.

I’d like to see her start picking up a few more assists too but I’m sure she’ll agree with me on that because she gets into so many good positions.

I thought the best player to play in front of Lucy was Daphne Corboz, who came over from the United States to play for us at City. She was very intricate and played in the pockets.

That’s the type of player that works best with Lucy because it gives her the space to run into. If you play with an out-and-out winger, you don’t always get the best out of her.

If you have Lucy in your team, you want to build it around her and I think Manchester City will do that.

Izzy Christiansen was speaking to BBC Sport’s Emma Sanders.

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