Lautaro Martinez has questioned Kylian Mbappe for claiming South American football “isn’t as advanced” as the European game.
The Paris Saint-Germain forward, 23, believes no South American nation has won the World Cup since Brazil’s triumph in South Korea and Japan in 2002 due to the region’s lack of competitiveness. Italy, Spain, Germany and France have all won the competition since.
Mbappe was part of the latter side that lifted the World Cup in Russia four years ago, beating Croatia 4-2 in the final. The Frenchman is keen to defend his nation’s title when the tournament gets underway in Qatar in November, concluding the following month.
“Argentina haven’t played games of great quality to reach the World Cup,” Mbappe recently told TNT Sports Brasil. “In South America football isn’t as advanced as Europe. That’s why if you look at the last World Cups it’s always the Europeans that win.”
Yet Inter Milan forward Martinez doesn’t agree with Mbappe. The 24-year-old, who helped Argentina win the Copa America last summer, is aiming to inspire his country to their first World Cup triumph since 1986. Argentina lost 1-0 to Germany in 2014’s final.
“Most of those of us who have been called up are in Europe and every day, even every training, you measure up against them,” Lautaro explained to TyC Sports. “That’s why I’ll say that we’re feeling good and working on the ideas the trainer asks of us.
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“We are happy with how it’s working and what we’re doing on the field. I saw what [Mbappe] said, but Argentina and Brazil have players of great quality and talent. Brazil, just like us, has most of its players in Europe. I thought it was an unfair comment.”
Despite Mbappe’s comments, Brazil are the favourites to win this year’s World Cup. Argentina are also being tipped to challenge for the trophy, while France are the second favourites. England fans will be delighted to hear they’re third favourites with the bookies.
Aston Villa and Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez added: “Bolivia in La Paz, Ecuador with 30-degree Celsius heat, Colombia where you can’t even breathe… they [in Europe] always play on perfect pitches and have no idea what South America is all about.
“Every time you travel with the national team you’ve got two days coming and going, you are exhausted and can’t train much. When an England player goes to train they are at the ground in half an hour. Let them go to Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and see if it is that easy.”
Liverpool and Brazil midfielder Fabinho was also asked for his opinion on Mbappe’s comments ahead of the Champions League final between the Reds and Real Madrid. “It is completely different, it is not straightforward,” he said.
“We have now to play in locations like Bolivia, I do not know if France has performed there. I imagine Brazil and Argentina would end first within the teams within the European qualifiers.”