Emiliano Martinez bites back at Kylian Mbappe ahead of World Cup final
Argentina goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez fired back at France’s Kylian Mbappe’s claims that European football is ahead of South America ahead of the World Cup final. The two nations will square off on Sunday for a place in the history books, seven months after Mbappe claimed that South American football was ‘less advanced’ than in Europe.
“The advantage we have in Europe is that we play among ourselves with high-level matches all the time, such as the Nations League, for example,” the Frenchman said. “When we arrive at the World Cup, we are ready, where Brazil and Argentina do not have this level in South America. Football is not as advanced as in Europe. That’s why at the last World Cups, it’s always the Europeans who win.”
A handful of South American players took exception to Mbappe’s comments and Martinez made his frustrations known ahead of the World Cup final on Sunday. “He doesn’t know enough about football,” Martinez said bluntly when asked about Mbappe’s words.
“He never played in South America. When you don’t have this experience, it may be better not to talk about it. But it doesn’t matter. We are a great team, recognised as such.” Martinez isn’t the first Argentine to have disagreed with Mbappe’s take, with Lionel Messi pointing to the geographical challenges that come with playing in South America as evidence of their struggles.
“Many times we talked about that in Spain,” Messi told TyC Sports earlier this year. “When we returned from a qualifier, we told them: ‘You don’t know how difficult it would be for you to qualify for the World Cup if you had to go there, at altitude, in the heat, in Venezuela’.”