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FORT LAUDERDALE — Lionel Messi began his Inter Miami career in magical fashion, scoring a 94th minute winner against Cruz Azul just three days ago, setting DRV PNK Stadium alight, and putting the world on alert that Messi is determined to bring his GOAT mentality to his new home.
With that memorable moment in the rearview mirror, Messi and the rest of the Inter Miami squad hope to crack on with another Leagues Cup group stage match, this one against Atlanta United. Should they emerge victorious, the club would finish the short group stage atop the three-team standings, qualifying for the knockout round in style.
Inter Miami sit last in the MLS Eastern Conference standings, but Leagues Cup success could be parlayed into a second half playoff push. They sit within a realistic shout of a playoff spot — the top nine teams in the conference qualify — but it would take a Herculean effort over the final portion of the season to get back in the mix.
Atlanta United, meanwhile, sit seventh in the East and are squarely in the hunt for a postseason berth. The trip to DRV PNK Stadium will see them match up against their former head coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino, and ex-forward star Josef Martinez, now both employed by their South Florida opponents.
The Sporting News is following the Inter Miami vs Atlanta United match live, providing score updates, commentary and highlights as they happen.
— Kyle Bonn (@the_bonnfire) July 25, 2023
Inter Miami vs Atlanta United live score
|Messi (9′, 22′)
Inter Miami (4-3-3, right to left): 1. Callender (GK) — 32. Allen, 27. Kryvtsov, 31. Miller, 2. Yedlin — 30. Cremaschi, 5. Busquets, 3. Arroyo — 10. Messi, 17. Martinez, 16. Taylor.
Atlanta United (3-4-3, right to left): 1. Guzan (GK) — 12. M. Robinson, 22. Purata, 4. Abram — 11. Lennon, 5. Sosa, 20. Rossetto, 26. Wiley — 28. Wolff, 7. Giakoumakis, 23. Almada.
Inter Miami vs Atlanta United live updates, highlights, commentary
Inter Miami vs Atlanta United: First Half
28th min: Atlanta United have their first attack in quite some time, and the combination of Caleb Wiley and Thiago Almada nearly unlocks the Inter Miami defense on the Atlanta left wing, but they can’t get through the trees with possession.
Inter Miami go right down the other way as Lionel Messi springs DeAndre Yedlin down the same side of the field, but Benji Cremaschi’s shot is blocked.
22nd min: GOAL! INTER MIAMI! LIONEL MESSI HAS HIS SECOND, HE CAN’T BE STOPPED! Messi carries it forward through midfield with acres of space, and he feeds Robert Taylor on the left. Taylor does very well to slide and meet the ball, redirecting it centrally back to Messi, and with a dummy from Josef Martinez, Messi has a wide open net to tap into.
In the celebration, the Inter Miami supporters display a sign showing support for 20-year-old Ian Fray who tore his ACL for a third time in Friday’s win over Cruz Azul. A really nice touch.
GO OFF, LEO MESSI.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 26, 2023
20th min: Lionel Messi, Robert Taylor, and Josef Martinez all combine back and forth at the top of the penalty area, but none of them have room to shoot. Finally, Messi pulls the trigger with little space, and all he can produce is a weak left-footed shot that’s easily collected by Brad Guzan.
16th min: Lionel Messi again creates a chance for an opponent with a sensational moment of brilliance, putting a big switch in a bucket for Robert Taylor, but the Inter Miami winger can’t control it, and as his first touch takes him too wide, the chance evaporates.
12th min: Chance, Inter Miami! Lionel Messi gets Josef Martinez into the action with a silky back-heel, and Martinez rifles his shot just high from a tight angle.
9th min: GOAL! INTER MIAMI! LIONEL MESSI HAS DONE IT AGAIN! It comes on a direct ball over the back line, as Messi makes the run from midfield, and his old mate Sergio Busquets puts it right on a platter at full speed. Messi’s first attempt comes off the far post, but he collects the rebound and deposits it in the back of the net.
There’s a long VAR check for offside on the initial feed from Busquets, and it survives!
HE’S DONE IT AGAIN.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) July 25, 2023
7th min: Atlanta United have had all the attacking possession early in this match. A cross from Brooks Lennon down the right wasn’t intended to trouble Drake Callender, but it gets over the leaping Inter Miami goalkeeper and clips off the crossbar. If there was someone to pounce at the far post it’s a goal, but nobody is there for Atlanta United to take advantage.
2nd min: Chance, Atlanta United! Atlanta United have the ball in the back of the net, but the offside flag goes up! Giakoumakis is sprung free and clear on goal, and with his angle a bit tight, he expertly squares it for Tyler Wolff who puts it into the net off the fingertips of Drake Callender. The flag goes up, and the decision survives a VAR review.
1st min: Some tactical notes from both sides as the game begins. First, Atlanta United has switched from its usual back-three to a traditional four-back, which suggests they are worried about the ability of Lionel Messi finding space between the center-backs. For Inter Miami, Messi is being man-marked by Santiago Sosa, who is also an Argentine.
Kickoff: We’re under way in Fort Lauderdale! After a thunderous atmosphere on Friday, DRV PNK is noticeably only around half full. Wonder if people are just arriving late, or if ticket prices have driven people away now that the novelty of Lionel Messi’s debut has worn off.
— Kyle Bonn (@the_bonnfire) July 25, 2023
Inter Miami vs Atlanta United: Pre-match commentary, analysis, stats, and more
5 mins to kick: Inter Miami winger Robert Taylor noticed a big difference in terms of his own operating space once Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets entered the pitch on Friday. We’ll see how much room he has this time around with at least 60 minutes with the duo on the field, and Atlanta United having extra time to prepare.
“I noticed that when I would receive the ball from Busquets, I would have a lot of space.”
Not a surprise, but interesting to see a player forthcoming on his observation. pic.twitter.com/3bmLDR95AS
— Kyle Bonn (@the_bonnfire) July 24, 2023
18 mins to kick: The weather tonight in Ft. Lauderdale, quite frankly, is disgusting. 87 degrees isn’t too bad, but an absolutely hideous 72 percent humidity means the heat index is 99 degrees. There definitely will be drinks breaks, and we’ll see how that affects the players. You wonder if the heat and humidity is enough, it could affect the minutes Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets see tonight.
Messi and Busquets are set to get their first starts here tonight and when I tell you it is *brutally* hot, that’s not an exaggeration. Can taste the humidity and the RealFeel will be in the triple digits at first kick. Just awful out there. pic.twitter.com/l6OfsK3CJd
— Pablo Iglesias Maurer (@MLSist) July 25, 2023
30 mins to kick: While the world focuses on Lionel Messi, his Argentine teammate, Thiago Almada, is on the opposition tonight. Almada, just 22 years old, was part of Argentina’s 2022 World Cup winning squad, and is likely to be on his way to Europe in the next year or two. One of the most talented young players in MLS currently, and ready to oppose his legendary country mate tonight.
World Cup winner Thiago Almada warming up with Atlanta United! pic.twitter.com/OFovawSiqF
— Mundo Albiceleste ⭐🌟⭐🇦🇷 (@MundoAlbicelest) July 25, 2023
50 mins to kick: The lineups are out (better late than never), and it’s now official: Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets will start for the first time for Inter Miami. Josef Martinez also re-enters the starting lineup, while Robbie Robinson is dropped from his wide role despite putting in a very quality shift against Cruz Azul.
Miles Robinson returns to the Atlanta United lineup after sitting out their most recent MLS match against Orlando City.
— Kyle Bonn (@the_bonnfire) July 25, 2023
1 hour to kick: While we wait for lineups to be released as the usual hour-before deadline passes, here’s Inter Miami owner and former England free-kick specialist David Beckham recreating Lionel Messi’s 94th-minute game winner from Friday.
🎥 IG/davidbeckham pic.twitter.com/CrRSnB3fPZ
— 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐒𝐩𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐍𝐞𝐰𝐬 Argentina 🇦🇷 (@sportingnewsar) July 25, 2023
1 hour 15 mins to kick: Qualification to the knockout stage requires a team only finish top two in its three-team group. Thus, following victory against Cruz Azul on Friday, the scenario for Inter Miami to qualify is simple: they need one point, and thus need only a draw tonight.
They can still qualify for the knockout stage with defeat, IF Cruz Azul lose to Atlanta United in the final match which comes on Saturday.
Although it likely won’t come into play in this group the way the math has played out, there is one wrinkle to keep in mind for Leagues Cup games: in group stage play, ALL draws will result immediately in a penalty shootout, whereby the winning team gains an additional point on top of their one point from the 90-minute draw.
I asked him if its nice to have Friday’s hullabaloo out of the way so they can crack on with a more normal routine.
“Normal’s a tricky word” pic.twitter.com/sR52DVS2cv
— Kyle Bonn (@the_bonnfire) July 24, 2023
1 hour 33 mins to kick: Inter Miami strongly hinted on their Instagram account that Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets WILL start tonight against Atlanta United, and The Athletic is reporting that they will. It’s unclear whether they’ll get a full 90 minutes in, but they got nearly a full half on Friday, and those two players aren’t very used to being subbed off, so it’s a good bet they’ll go the distance.
1 hour 45 mins to kick: Inter Miami, only incepted in 2019, is a brand new club. Therefore, it’s not surprising that their leading goal scorer only has 28 career goals with the club. That is none other than Lionel Messi’s Argentine country mate Gonzalo Higuain, who was the club’s first marquee signing.
With his debut goal, Messi just needs 28 goals to become the club’s all-time leading scorer. At Friday’s pace, it won’t take him very long to end up atop the charts!
Lionel Messi only needs 28 more goals to become Inter Miami’s all-time leading goalscorer…
How many GAMES will it take him to eclipse this? 👇 pic.twitter.com/gOmligCbKd
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) July 25, 2023
2 hours to kickoff: Lionel Messi has played one match for Inter Miami, and already the head coach of the Miami Hurricanes football team is looking to use his presence to recruit athletes to the city.
Miami 🤝 Messi
— ACC Network (@accnetwork) July 25, 2023
Inter Miami vs Atlanta United lineups, team news
Tata Martino told media the day prior to the match that Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets will “probably play more minutes” than they did against Cruz Azul on Friday, when they got nearly the entire second half. Sure enough, Inter Miami announced in the run-up to Tuesday’s game that the two WILL be in the starting lineup, and that was confirmed with the official starting lineup.
Josef Martinez also re-enters the starting lineup after coming off the bench against Cruz Azul, while Robbie Robinson is dropped from his wide role despite putting in a very quality shift on Friday.
The match last Friday was dampened slightly by a serious injury to 20-year-old full-back Ian Fray who suffered another ACL tear in his young career, leaving him sidelined for at least the rest of the season and likely longer.
It’s just the latest blow in a season of injuries for Inter Miami, who are without influential midfielders Gregore and Jean Mota due to long-term injuries of their own. French striker Corentin Jean is also out for the year with an ACL tear.
Inter Miami confirmed starting lineup (4-3-3): Callender (GK) — Allen, Kryvtsov, Miller, Yedlin — Cremaschi, Busquets, Arroyo — Messi, Martinez, Taylor.
Inter Miami subs (12): (Lineups released one hour prior to kickoff)
Atlanta United are yet to play in Leagues Cup action, but manager Gonzalo Pineda’s side are enjoying a solid campaign in MLS, with Greece international Giorgos Giakoumakis netting 10 league goals so far.
Giakoumakis didn’t start Atlanta United’s last MLS match before the break for Leagues Cup, but he returns here to lead the front line, as does Miles Robinson who slides back into the defensive line. In-form wing-back Caleb Wiley, who played for the U.S. at the Under-20 World Cup earlier this summer, is one player Inter Miami will need to keep an eye on.
Atlanta United confirmed starting lineup (3-4-3): Guzan (GK) — M. Robinson, Purata, Abram — Lennon, Sosa, Rossetto, Wiley — Wolff, Giakoumakis, Almada.
Atlanta United subs (12): (Lineups released one hour prior to kickoff)
How to watch Inter Miami vs Atlanta United
With the MLS season past the halfway mark, Apple has slashed the price on subscriptions for MLS Season Pass, with new users able to jump in at 50 percent off for the rest of the year.
For Inter Miami’s two Leagues Cup group stage matches, MLS Season Pass will feature “an enhanced production” with “18 cameras, Steadicam, four super slow-motion cameras, Skycam, a drone, sideline reporters in Spanish and English, a dedicated one-hour pregame show on site with features, interviews and expert analysis, and a postgame show to wrap things up.”
Safe to say Apple is going all in on the Messi boost.
Inter Miami vs Atlanta United betting odds,
Expectations for Inter Miami in the Leagues Cup have been tempered somewhat after the narrow win over Cruz Azul on Friday.
While the club shockingly opened as third-favorites to win the entire competition prior to the tournament kickoff, they’ve seen their odds lengthening somewhat after needing Messi’s late magic to beat the last-place team in Mexico’s Liga MX standings. They’re still favored to beat Atlanta United, but only by a narrow margin.
to score Y / N
|Over / Under
|-175 / +120
|-155 / +105