Brazil manager Tite hit back at France striker Kylian Mbappe’s claim that World Cup qualifying is more difficult in Europe than in South America.
Paris Saint-Germain star Mbappe said in May that European teams, who have won the last four World Cups, have an advantage over their South American rivals because they play “high-level matches.”
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Mbappe added: “Argentina and Brazil don’t have that level of competition in South America, the football is not as developed as in Europe, that is why most recent World Cup winners have been Europeans.”
Tite took issue with that suggestion in an interview with ESPN Brazil on Tuesday, saying the level of competition in the CONMEBOL region was as hard as any in the world.
“Maybe [Mbappe] is talking about these Nations League clashes or European friendlies, but not World Cup qualifiers,” Tite said, going on to outline the challenges South American giants like Argentina and Brazil face playing at high altitude in countries like Bolivia or against elite sides like Uruguay during their gruelling 18-game qualifying cycle.
“We don’t have, with all due respect, Azerbaijan to play. We don’t have anyone that gives you a break,” Tite added. “The qualifiers here have a much higher degree of difficulty than the group stage [of European qualifying].”
Mbappe’s remarks also drew criticism from others involved in South American football, including his Paris Saint-Germain teammate Lionel Messi.
“Many times we talked about that in Spain,” Messi said in an interview with TyC Sports. “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.'”
Former Uruguay forward Sebastian “Loco” Abreu even suggested in an interview with ESPN that Mbappe should do more “Wikipedia research.”