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UEFA Champions League

Barcelona is ready to lift the UWCL trophy

Photo copyright Unnati Naidu/SPP.

Barcelona has emerged as a Champions League powerhouse in the past few years, and although they’ve made it to the final three of the past four years, they’ve only walked away with the trophy once. Last year, Olympique Lyonnais went up 3-0 early in the first half, and even though Barcelona was able to claw one back before the half, they had to watch Lyon lift the trophy from the sideline. 

The Equalizer spoke with Barcelona defender Lucy Bronze and midfielder Ingrid Engen about the upcoming Champions League final against VfL Wolfsburg. Bronze has won three Champions League trophies with Lyon, and is finishing her first year with the Spanish side, while Engen has previously been in finals and lost with both VfL Wolfsburg in 2020 and Barcelona in 2022. 

“Definitely it’s motivating when you don’t get the result you want,” Engen said of losing in the final last year. “I think this team is very curious about, ‘okay, how can we improve both the players and the staff?’ So I think the focus was there from the beginning.”

Although Bronze wasn’t yet on the Barcelona squad for the 2022 Champions League final, the team had learned most of their lessons of the season from that one game, so not repeating history was one of the first conversations Bronze had with her new manager. “That was a huge focus of this season and wanting to improve certain things in the team. That’s kind of the mentality of a top team—wanting to fix things for a final that we weren’t even in yet because we had that belief and that mentality that we would make the final, that we would get there and that when we do get there, we know how to right the wrongs of previous experiences.”

On the transition to the Barcelona style of play, Bronze said, “It’s been different. We like to play with the ball, we like the midfield to get on the ball a lot more. My role’s changed a little bit in the team, but it’s something that I enjoy. So I think Barcelona’s probably one of the [teams] I’ve enjoyed the most. To train here every day with the best players in the world is obviously something that’s a positive and helps you improve as a player. Even at the age I am now, I still feel like I can improve and learn a lot of things from the players around me at this club.”

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For Engen, lifting the trophy is “all that matters right now.” She continued, “we’re at the end of the season, a really good one. We have the chance to lift the biggest trophy at the club level…It’s everything I think about and prepare for. So it would mean everything as a football player to get to lift this also for the first time.”

Standing in their way of lifting the trophy is a very strong Wolfsburg side. Of her former team, Engen said, “I think their offensive line are all really good and can create danger against any team they play. All of them have [that] X-factor.” 

Bronze spoke very highly of forward Alexandra Popp: “For both Germany and Wolfsburg, she’s their talisman player, the one that shows up in the big games and the big moments and leads by example, leads the team and has that mentality. I think over the past maybe three, four, five years, she’s been one of the best players in the world. Probably has been overlooked a little bit because she plays in Germany. If she played in another country or won the Champions League more, I think her name would be on the top of a lot of lists for best player in the world.” 

Bronze also mentioned midfielder Lena Oberdorf, who could easily cause problems for Barcelona, saying “she’s a little bit of a different style of a six to the six as we like to play with in Barcelona so it’ll be an interesting clash of styles with Germany in general and Barcelona and Spain in general.”

But at the end of the day, Bronze stressed that Barcelona has faith in their current team. “We’ve got plenty of talented players in our team to compete against not just those two, but all the players that Wolfsburg have to offer with a lot of talent.”

Barcelona will take on VfL Wolfsburg June 3rd at 10am ET.

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