"He doesn't know enough about football" - Emi Martinez fires back after Kylian Mbappé comments
"We always like to hear that the opponent is the favourite."
Emi Martinez has been a catalyst for so much good ever since he took over the No.1 spot for Argentina.
The Aston Villa goalkeeper was a key part of his side's World Cup qualification, Copa America triumph and their Finalissima victory. In this World Cup, he has excelled again and his stand-out contribution was his penalty shoot-out heroics against The Netherlands in the quarter final.
Martinez is chirpy, too. Like many of his compatriots, he is a heart-on-your-sleeve personality and has no issues with getting into it with opponents.
Ahead of Sunday's World Cup final, he took issue with the following Kylian Mbappé comments on the differences between European and South American football. The last four World Cup winners have been European, including Mbappé's France in 2018. The PSG striker commented:
"The advantage we have in Europe is that we play among ourselves with high-level matches all the time, such as the Nations League.
"When we arrive at the World Cup, we are ready, whereas 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."
"It may be better not to talk about it"
Some outlets may report the following Emi Martinez and Kylian Mbappé piece with some degree of bombast, but the response from the Argentina goalkeeper was made without any voices being raised or tables being thumped.
Asked about those Mbappé comments, the Villa man was nonetheless firm. He replied:
"He doesn't know enough about football.
"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 says he is happy that France are considered by many to be World Cup favourites, and reminded those at his press briefing that Brazil were the Copa America favourites before his team did a number on them.
"People can say that the favourites are France, but we have the great advantage to have the greatest player of all time [in Lionel Messi]," he said.
"We always like to hear that the opponent is the favourite because we don’t feel either superior or inferior to anyone. But, as I always say, we have the greatest player of all time. And with a good defence, we have many chances to reach our goal."
Emi Martinez admitted to reporters that getting to the World Cup final has involved some of that journey being on 'a very difficult road'.
"I’ve always been a fighter, I always fought," he added.
"When I was 12 years old I left my home, when I was 17 years old I played with Arsenal until I was 26, 27 years old and Argentina, in my country, they didn’t know me as a player as I deserved it or as I wanted it. I was very young when I left my country… and right now to have the whole country supporting me in this final of the World Cup, this is something crucial.
"Emotions will be there, will be present but I am strong emotionally and when the initial whistle blows I will be concentrated on saving the ball."
- 'Kylian Mbappe doesn't lace boots' of peak Lionel Messi - Damien Duff
- Duff and Given combine for the best night of World Cup coverage RTE has had
- Roy Keane pays fitting tribute to Luka Modric before heartbreaking tunnel scenes