Lionel Messi’s Absence Raises Concerns for Inter Miami CF Ahead of Atlanta United Clash

Football, Football News, Lionel Messi, Soccer

Inter Miami CF star Lionel Messi’s absence from the team’s upcoming road game against Atlanta United FC has left fans and pundits speculating about the reasons behind his withdrawal. While Miami coach Gerardo Martino initially mentioned Messi’s availability was uncertain, sources now confirm that the Argentine sensation won’t travel with the team.

Messi’s recent departure from Argentina’s World Cup qualifying match against Ecuador and his omission from the squad for their 3-0 victory over Bolivia had raised questions about his fitness and readiness for club duties. However, Coach Martino emphasized that Messi is physically fine but expressed caution regarding his star player’s workload.

“We will be careful with him because we have a lot of important games in a short span,” Martino stated, highlighting the need to manage Messi’s playing time carefully.

Miami’s schedule leading up to the international break was grueling, with little rest between matches. The team faces another tight turnaround before Wednesday’s home match against Toronto FC. Furthermore, Messi has more World Cup qualifiers on the horizon in October, featuring games against Paraguay (Oct. 12) and Peru (Oct. 17).

In addition to the national team commitments, Messi’s schedule with Miami has been demanding. Playing 90 minutes in every match, often with just two to three days of rest and travel in between, has taken a toll.

However, Coach Martino recognized the need for Messi to adapt to Miami’s requirements, especially in seasons with a packed fixture list. He indicated that rotating Messi more frequently might become necessary to ensure he remains fit and available for crucial games.

While Messi trained with the team on Thursday and Friday, his absence from the Atlanta United clash raises questions about his suitability for turf pitches. Atlanta plays on turf, and while Messi reassured everyone that he had played on artificial turf throughout his youth and was capable of adapting, the playing surface has been under scrutiny after NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a torn Achilles tendon on turf.

Atlanta is one of two MLS teams on Miami’s remaining away schedule that play on turf, with Charlotte being the other. Miami’s potential trip to face other Eastern Conference clubs in the playoffs, like the New England Revolution, could also involve playing on turf.

Messi’s absence against Atlanta comes as a disappointment for fans who had hoped to see him in action. Inter Miami CF has already defeated Atlanta twice this season, with a 2-1 win in May and a convincing 4-0 victory in the Leagues Cup back in July, during which Messi shone with two goals and an assist in his first start for the team.

Coach Martino, returning to Atlanta where he previously coached the team for three seasons and led them to an MLS Cup title in 2018, will have to navigate this crucial clash without his star player.

With up to 70,000 fans expected to fill Mercedes-Benz Stadium for the match, the anticipation of witnessing Messi’s brilliance is palpable, even if his presence on the field remains uncertain. Tickets for the game are in high demand, with even the cheapest nosebleed seats fetching $130 on secondary ticket sites.

Atlanta United FC currently sits in sixth place in the Eastern Conference but has struggled in recent weeks, winning only two of its past eight games across all competitions. The team’s defense has been porous, conceding 43 goals this season, the second-most in the league, trailing only Portland.

Thiago Almada, the 22-year-old Argentine midfielder often compared to Messi for his height and technical prowess, leads Atlanta’s charge. Almada leads the league with 11 assists, making him a player to watch in Messi’s absence. Almada and Messi exchanged jerseys after their Leagues Cup encounter in July, a testament to their mutual respect.

Despite its challenges, Atlanta bolstered its squad with key signings, including Xande Silva and Saba Lobjanidze, who have made significant contributions since their arrival, combining for a goal and three assists in four games.

As Inter Miami CF seeks to climb the Eastern Conference standings and secure a playoff spot, the absence of Lionel Messi against Atlanta United FC adds an intriguing dimension to the upcoming clash. While Messi’s absence is felt deeply by fans and teammates, it also presents an opportunity for other Miami players to step up and make their mark on the game.


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