Kylian Mbappe has been criticized for highlighting the lack of South American world champions – with only Brazil having succeeded since Argentina’s win in 1986
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Lautaro Martinez has quizzed Kylian Mbappe over his claims South American football is ‘not as advanced’ as European football.
The 23-year-old Paris Saint-Germain forward believes no South American nation has won the World Cup since Brazil triumphed in South Korea and Japan in 2002 because the region is uncompetitive. Since then, Italy, Spain, Germany and France have won the competition.
Mbappe was part of the latter team that won 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 begins in Qatar in November and ends the following month.
“Argentina didn’t play any great quality games to reach the World Cup,” Mbappe recently told TNT Sports Brasil. “Football in South America isn’t as advanced as it is in Europe. That’s why, if you look at the last World Cups, it’s always the Europeans who win.”
However, Inter Milan striker Martinez disagrees 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 the 2014 final.
“Most of us who have been called up are in Europe and every day, even every training session, you compete against them,” Lautaro told TyC Sports. “That’s why I say we’re feeling good and we’re working on the ideas that the coach is asking of us.
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“We’re happy with how it’s working and what we’re doing on the field. i saw something [Mbappe] said, but Argentina and Brazil have players of great quality and talent. Brazil, like us, have most of their players in Europe. I thought it was an unfair comment.”
Despite Mbappe’s comments, Brazil are the favorites to win this year’s world title. Argentina will also be in contention for the trophy, while France are second favourites. England fans will be delighted to hear they are the bookmakers’ third favorite.
Aston Villa and Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez added: “Bolivia in La Paz, Ecuador with 30 degrees 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, two days come and go, you’re exhausted and you can’t train much. If an English player goes to training, they’re down in half an hour. Let them go Bolivia, Colombia , Ecuador and see if it’s 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’s completely different, it’s not easy,” he said.
“We now have to play in places like Bolivia, I don’t know if France performed well there. I think Brazil and Argentina would take the top spots in the European qualifiers.”