Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi (10) celebrates after scoring the go ahead goal during the second half of a Leagues Cup group stage soccer match against Cruz Azul Stadium on Friday, July 21, 2023, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP)

Messi Has High Expectations for Second Game with Inter Miami

Lionel Messi’s debut for Inter Miami was written like a Hollywood script. The Argentine legend banged home the free kick in stoppage time to give his new club a major win in the opening match of the League’s Cup. Miami will face Atlanta United in the second and final match of the group stage Tuesday night.

Messi, along with fellow newcomer Sergio Busquets are expected to be in the starting eleven for Tuesday’s game. Both players came off the bench and played for about 40 minutes in their first appearance against Mexican side Cruz Azul.

Matchup Storylines

Meanwhile, an interesting wrinkle to this matchup has to do with Inter Miami’s new manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino. Atlanta United was an expansion team that began play in 2017. Martino was the club’s first manager and led them to the MLS title in only its second season competing.

Atlanta is coming off back-to-back losses in MLS play. This squad is led by 22-year-old Argentine Midfielder Thiago Almada, who has extra motivation to take down his fellow countryman. Both Almada and Messi were on Argentina’s squad that won the 2022 World Cup.  Almada even became the first active MLS player to win the tournament. Now with their first game in a new competition, Almada and his club hope to end the honeymoon period of Messi and his new home.

Competition Details

Additionally, this new competition called the League’s Cup features every team from the MLS and Mexico’s Liga MX. Last year’s champions of each league, LAFC and Pachuca, have received byes till the round of 32. The remaining 45 teams compete in a three team, two match group stage. The top two teams in each group advance to the round of 32. The knockout stage is a World Cup style playoff until a champion is crowned. This tournament has offered a prize pool of nearly $40 million, which is the highest of any North American soccer competition.


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