OPINION | Bradley Barcola deserves his spot in France’s Euros squad

Recency bias holds a certain sway in football. Bradley Barcola’s (21) match-winning display for Paris Saint-Germain against OGC Nice conveniently comes on the eve of Didier Deschamps’ Euro 2024 squad announcement. That performance will be fresh in Deschamps’ memory and that, coupled with his steady rise to prominence in recent months, should suffice to book his ticket on the plane to Germany. 

Deschamps doesn’t have a habit of calling upon players who have never represented Les Bleus at senior level in a major tournament. However, the France manager could be about to buck his trend. “It’s not because I don’t have a habit of calling up players in major tournaments that I had not previously called up that I will prevent myself from doing so,” Deschamps told AFP earlier this month. 

“In March, Moussa Diaby was in the squad and was doing interesting things with Aston Villa. It was the same with Bradley with PSG but it was more recent and he needed to back it up. Since March, he has backed up his performances,” he added. Indeed, after an erratic start to the season following his big-money summer move from formative club Olympique Lyonnais, Barcola has found consistency in the back end of the season.

That form has coincided with an extended run in the team, with Kylian Mbappé either shifted into the middle or committed from the team entirely – a by-product of his decision to leave Les Parisiens at the end of the season. Barcola, who was harshly described as a “little lamb” by RMC Sport journalist Daniel Riolo earlier this season, amidst a difficult run of form, particularly in the UEFA Champions League group stages, shone in Mbappé’s absence at the Allianz Riviera on Wednesday. 


The France captain was ruled out with a minor injury and in his absence, Barcola assumed the goal-scoring mantle and showed the sort of trickery down the left that was reminiscent of Mbappé in his early days; the former AS Monaco winger still shows touches of flashiness albeit less frequently. 

Barcola was uncontrollable against Nice, with Jordan Lotomba failing to get a grip on his man at any point. Having dispossessed the Swiss defender early in the first half, deep in Nice territory, he then immediately received the ball back from Fabián Ruiz before dispatching past Marcin Bulka, one of the best goalkeepers in Ligue 1 this season. 

It was a mazy run down the left that then got Barcola to the byline before his cut-back found Yoram Zague at the back post for his first professional goal. With Barcola also responsible for earning Melvin Bard’s red card in the second half, it was a complete performance from Barcola and a timely one at that. It was also a performance that should convince PSG’s hierarchy that he is the man to replace the outgoing Mbappé on the left wing and it should convince Deschamps too.

With UEFA increasing the squad size to 26 players for these Euros, there is certainly space for Barcola, however, for him to book his place on the plane to Germany, Deschamps would have to depart from his previous policy but Barcola is a rare gem and an exception should be made to accommodate him.

GFFN | Luke Entwistle


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