Will Messi’s absence harm Inter Miami’s chances in the MLS qualifiers? | football news

After arriving as a messiah earlier this summer, Lionel Messi has transformed Inter Miami from a team languishing at the bottom of the MLS Eastern Conference into a League Cup winner. Having scored 11 goals in as many matches, Messi has helped the Hirons remain unbeaten in their last 11 matches in all competitions. Inter Miami may not currently be chasing the MLS title, but Messi’s signing has certainly boosted their chances of securing a place in the playoffs. Securing a spot in the playoffs is not mathematically unrealistic at the moment. Moreover, given their recent performance, Inter Miami is poised to secure a spot in the playoffs. The team currently trails ninth-place DC United by eight points in the MLS standings.

Inter Miami striker Lionel Messi (10 years old) celebrates the victory over Los Angeles at BMO Stadium. (USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con)

However, the international break could be a major dampener on Inter Miami’s qualifying mission. With Messi’s involvement in international football, it is expected that Inter Miami will be without the services of the Argentine star for at least one match.

Messi will lead Argentina in two World Cup qualifiers this month. Argentina’s second qualifier against Bolivia is scheduled to be held on September 13. Inter Miami will be without Messi during their MLS meeting with Sporting Kansas City this weekend. The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner is expected to return to the United States to participate in Inter Miami’s match against Atlanta United on September 17. Messi’s chances of appearing against Atlanta United will depend entirely on his fitness.

While speaking about Messi’s absence, Inter Miami coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino said: “We will try to give the best possible performance against Kansas City. We also hope that the players who left will come back healthy so we can continue this.”

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The absence of Lionel Messi will undoubtedly be a huge blow to Inter Miami. The 36-year-old’s impact on Inter Miami’s recent form has been unimaginable. According to CBS, Messi was involved in 52.2% of Inter Miami’s total expected goals. He took 45 per cent of Inter Miami’s shots, having resulted in 10 per cent of his touches.

Aside from Lionel Messi, Inter Miami will not have players like Serhiy Krivtsov, Robert Taylor, Josef Martinez, Drake Callender, Benjamin Krimachi, David Ruiz, Diego Gomez and Edison Azcona in their squad for the home game against Kansas City on Sunday.

In Messi’s absence, Inter Miami’s attacking line will rely heavily on Fucundo Farias and Leonardo Campana. It is also possible to introduce Paraguayan player Diego Gomez as an attacking option to support the Campana and Farias duo.

Defensively, the situation looks a bit bleak for Inter Miami. The absence of Ukrainian Sergei Krivtsov leaves a gap in Inter Miami’s defense. Canadian Kamal Miller will have to lead Inter Miami’s defense during the international break. Furthermore, the Hirons will be without reliable goaltender Drake Callender. The 25-year-old goalkeeper was impressive for Inter Miami and as a result earned a call-up from the US national team. Having made 25 MLS appearances so far this season, Callender has made the third most saves – 97. He has also kept four clean sheets for Inter Miami in MLS so far. In Callender’s absence, his compatriot Carlos dos Santos is expected to take over as Inter Miami’s goalkeeper.

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