orge Sampaoli was loath to mention Germany as one of the favourites for the World Cup, saying he does not “like the way they play”.
The Argentina boss saw his side scrape into the next year’s finals at Russia with a Lionel Messi inspired win in Ecuador in the final round of CONMEBOL qualifying.
Germany, meanwhile, coasted through the European section with 10 wins from 10, and are heavily fancied to defend the trophy they won in Brazil by beating Argentina in the final.
Joachim Low’s men also won the Confederations Cup last year with what was effectively a ‘B’ team, but Sampaoli seemingly sees Brazil, France and Spain as bigger challenges at football’s global showpiece.
Speaking to journalism students at the Tea and Deportea School in Argentina, he said: “I think Brazil, Spain and France are one step ahead of us due to their time working together.
“I don’t mention Germany not because I forgot them, but because I don’t like the way they play.”
Sampaoli also hinted at a recall for Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain, who has fallen out of favour since he took the job, while expressing his sympathy for Boca Juniors striker Dario Benedetto, who suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury earlier this month.
“In the short term, the Higuain issue was complicated for us,” he added.
“In the medium term I think he can be an important player.”
On Benedetto, he added: “I spoke with him, now his priority has to be to return. Unfortunately, he will not be able to compete in the same conditions as the other attackers.”