Lucy Bronze thinks Manchester City Women can be best side in Europe

21 April 2017 11:54

Lucy Bronze has warned that Manchester City Women are ready to take over as Europe's number one club side.

Saturday sees City tackle French giants Lyon in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final. Lyon have won the Champions League in three of the last six seasons, and the French title for 10 years in a row.

City and England right-back Bronze says Lyon represent the perfect model for a women's team, having been integrated within the main structure of the football club since 2004.

But City are catching Lyon at a rapid rate, officially becoming a part of the City Football Group alongside the men's team in 2012 and embracing the professional era of the women's game.

They landed their first Women's Super League title last September and now pose an immediate threat to Europe's elite.

"The process they've gone through and the way they've built themselves up is exactly what we want to do at City," Bronze said.

"We want to be successful domestically and in Europe as well. They've shown the way. They've built everything up and got the players where they want them to be.

"But now we've got our own stadium, we've got all the facilities to match them and we've got everything to match them and what they've done, and push on and maybe improve on what they've been known for doing."

City reached the Women's FA Cup final with victory over Liverpool on Monday, and eight of their players will go to Euro 2017 with England this summer, including Bronze and Steph Houghton, captain of club and country.

Bronze headed the only goal of the Champions League quarter-final second leg against Fortuna Hjorring as City beat their Danish opponents 2-0 on aggregate.

And the full-back, a strong contender to be named the PFA women's player of the year on Sunday, told Press Association Sport: "I couldn't be more excited to be playing Lyon now.

"You'd rather be playing them in a final rather than a semi-final, but if you want to be the best you've got to beat the best.

"They're the holders in the competition and they're a star-studded team .

"You look at the players they've got and for me it's Ada Hegerberg, Alex Morgan and Eugenie Le Sommer, three players I've played against for England that we've had successful and unsuccessful games against, but they're players I'm familiar with."

Hegerberg is a Norwegian forward and current UEFA player of the year, Morgan a United States team-mate of City's Carli Lloyd, and Le Sommer a tricky attacker who scored for France against England at the World Cup two years ago.

"They know our game and we know their game," Bronze said, "so it's going to be exciting to play against such a strong opponent."

City will hope for close to a full house at the 7,000-capacity Academy Stadium, a short walk from the Etihad Stadium, while they can expect to play in front of a larger crowd in the return leg on Saturday week. That will take place at Lyon's Parc OL, Lyon's home for big European games, which has a capacity just short of 60,000.

Lyon drew 14,000 to their home quarter-final against Wolfsburg, showing the scale of their support.

"The crowds come with the success and they've been a successful team for a long time, whereas we're quite new to success, the team's a lot younger than Lyon," Bronze said.

Source: PA