Lucy Bronze said that Team GB “don’t look like a team that’s been freshly made for a tournament”, after the side’s comfortable 2-0 defeat of Chile at the Olympics.
The Fifa best player of the year was pivotal in the opening game, providing the dinked cross that Lauren Hemp tipped to the feet of Ellen White for Team GB’s first goal and delivering a similarly chipped effort for White’s second.
“I had a go at Hempo for not scoring the first goal because then I would have had the assist – she stole the assist off me,” the right-back said with a grin. “So I had to try and get an assist before the end of the game and I’m pretty happy at being involved in both goals.”
Victory has put Team GB top of Group E, Japan and Canada having drawn 1-1 in the later fixture at the fully enclosed Sapporo Dome. With two of the three third-place finishers progressing to the knockout stage, the win has lifted the pressure a little on the next two games.
This was Team GB’s first competitive fixture in nine years and for the 19 England players in the squad a first competitive international since the 2019 World Cup, so it is natural that it will take time to find fluidity and consistency across 90 minutes.
“We said it in training: the more we train, the more in-house friendlies, minute by minute the relationships are improving and getting better,” said Bronze. “We’re going to have to do that in the tournament, grow each game. At the end of the game both [the manager] Hege Riise and [her assistant] Rhian Wilkinson said it wasn’t the perfect performance, certainly not the best we could have been. We’re going to have to just keep improving and adding and adding to it throughout the tournament.
“It was good. We don’t look like a team that’s been freshly made for a tournament. We could have scored a lot more goals in the first half but clean sheet and two goals from the first game, we’re pretty happy.”
That there are so many England players in the squad, and so many Manchester City players (10), helps to accelerate that process, said Bronze. She believes it also gets the best out of White, one of her City colleagues.
“The way these types of players play, that play with England regularly, Ellen thrives off that; off the six-yard box and everybody else just creating around her,” Bronze said. “Her link‑up with [Scotland’s] Kim Little was really good as well. Kim provides that magic in the middle that allows Ellen to be free in and around the box, and she got the rewards.”
The game on Saturday against Japan, 10th in the Fifa world rankings, will be a much bigger test of how much Team GB have clicked. “They’ve spent the last three or four years building for this tournament and these games so they’re going to be well prepared,” Bronze said.
“They’re the home nation, they’re going to want to press – there’s a lot of pressure on them to do that – but equally I think they’ll thrive on it; they’re a very good team. When I’ve played against Japan for England it’s always been a tough game so I expect it to be a tough game with GB.”