Didier Deschamps' list for Euro 2024: the Blues coach ready to shake up his habits

For twelve years as coach of the French football team, Didier Deschamps could easily take part in the exercise with his eyes closed: a smile at the presenter at the start of the news, on the spot of 8 p

Didier Deschamps' list for Euro 2024: the Blues coach ready to shake up his habits

For twelve years as coach of the French football team, Didier Deschamps could easily take part in the exercise with his eyes closed: a smile at the presenter at the start of the news, on the spot of 8 p.m., then thirty minutes of waiting before this monotone and this care given to the articulation of the names of the lucky ones. Thursday May 15, to TF1 journalist Gilles Bouleau, the Bayonnais will reveal his list of players selected to play in the Euro, which starts on June 14 in Germany.

The coach will then clarify his choices in the auditorium of the first channel, during a press conference. The opportunity in particular for the "65 million selectors" in the country to understand the differences between their group and those they have carefully composed in recent days on platforms proposing to summon 26 men, as allowed by the UEFA, organizer of the tournament.

But allowing is not constraining, and Didier Deschamps could be content to give 23, 24 or 25 names. This is one of the big questions on this list, which the Basque had to rehash in his quest for the ideal collective, an essential prerequisite in his eyes before starting a competition. In March, he announced that he had a “hard core of 16, 17, 18 or 19 players”, already assured of being part of the adventure across the Rhine. “If there are no physical problems,” he had deftly added.

The world champion, both as a player and coach, knows the vagaries of football too well and had sensed the ill wind coming at the end of a grueling season. Over the previous weeks, he has seen the accumulation of bad news and uncertainty emerging around certain players. Will Mike Maignan, Aurélien Tchouameni and Kingsley Coman, currently injured, be recovered in time? Lucas Hernandez, victim of a cruciate ligament rupture with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), is, for his part, already out.

“I’m not going to act smart.”

Given this, why not aim for more? During the last Euro, when UEFA decided to expand the lists previously frozen at 23, the innovation did not work for the Blues. “At the start, all 26 of them are happy, but afterward…” explained Didier Deschamps in an interview with L’Equipe in August 2021. Only 23 players could appear on the match sheet, three were therefore forced to stay in the stands. A blow to morale, which could rub off on the rest of the group.

The rule was removed for the World Cup in Qatar, where the Blues reached the final... but at 24 - Lucas Hernandez and Karim Benzema, injured, had to leave the group. “Going to 26 to fill boxes doesn’t interest me. I'm also not going to be smart and take 23 players and then find myself in difficulty because I didn't take enough. (…) If I take 26 players, it is because I will consider that it is useful for the France team. Adapting is my watchword,” explained Didier Deschamps to Agence France-Presse (AFP) in early May.

During the last competitions, the coach proved it by being less intransigent than before on certain decisions. In 2021, he summoned Benzema for the continental tournament, even though he had not played for the French team for six years. For the World Cup in Qatar, he deviated from one of his principles - not to start preparation with diminished players -, taking advantage of the expansion of the list to call up Raphaël Varane, who was then uncertain. More favorable to a group of 23, the coach could imitate his choice of 2022: casting a wide net, to anticipate possible packages.

The Barcola surprise ?

Maignan and Coman, absent since mid-April, and Tchouameni, victim of a stress fracture in his foot and uncertain for the Champions League final in which Real Madrid participates on June 1, therefore have a good chance of being present in the group. For the winger and the midfielder, a fallback solution could be considered thanks to a move to 26.

An additional player could thus be retained in the midfield – Matteo Guendouzi, Jordan Veretout or Khéphren Thuram? – while the surprise Bradley Barcola, author of good performances with Paris Saint-Germain (including Wednesday May 15, against Nice) but who has until then only known the Espoirs, could make his appearance among the attackers. During his mandate, the coach only selected four players who had not yet set foot with the Blues to compete in an international competition.

“It's not because I'm not used to calling up players in the final phase that I haven't selected before that I'm going to deprive myself. I don’t work with these types of rules,” insisted Didier Deschamps to AFP. Attached to his experience in the national jersey, he could favor the choice Moussa Diaby, who already has 10 caps.

The absence of Lucas Hernandez could open the door to a return of Ferland Mendy or Lucas Digne, to serve as backup to the starting left side, Théo Hernandez. The coach could also consolidate his defensive sector with the addition of a central defender. In this case, Axel Disasi would hold the rope. In the event of a new physical problem, Didier Deschamps will have until June 7, the deadline for sending the official list to UEFA, to adjust his group.