MLS

Messi and Suarez available as Inter Miami target bounce-back performance

By Sports Desk May 31, 2024

Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are expected to feature when Inter Miami host St. Louis City in MLS on Saturday, with the Herons looking to bounce back from a midweek defeat.

Miami saw a 10-match unbeaten run in league play halted on Wednesday, as they were beaten 3-1 by Atlanta United.

That result came despite Messi and Suarez returning to Gerardo Martino's lineup, having both missed a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps last weekend.

According to assistant coach Javier Morales, both players will be fit and available for this week's match as Miami target a return to winning ways.

"Everyone is optimum to play," Morales said. "Today we will train, and the coaching staff will watch players but there is no physical problem. 

"Afterwards we will talk to the players but most of all Martino will feel the game and what it needs. 

"But we will play the strongest team to conclude this part of the season strongly before the international window. Everyone is fit and wants to play.

"The plan was always to play the strongest side against St. Louis, the result on Wednesday did not modify that strategy."

St. Louis have lost three successive games to slide to 11th in the Western Conference standings, three points outside the wild-card places.

They were beaten 2-1 by the Seattle Sounders on home soil last weekend, and head coach Bradley Carnell knows a swift response is important.

"I challenge the staff, the players challenge me, and then we try to execute on gameday," Carnell said after that defeat.

"None of us are happy with the situation, let me be clear. We've experienced far better, we've had a lot more joy and a lot more smiles on our faces.

"But we get up in the morning and we go again. That's the message for the boys."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Inter Miami – Lionel Messi

Messi scored Miami's only goal in their defeat to Atlanta on Wednesday. 

It was the first time Messi's club had lost a match in which he scored for over three years, since he netted for Barcelona in a 2-1 loss to Celta Vigo in May 2021.

St. Louis City – Eduard Lowen

Lowen recorded his 17th MLS assist for St. Louis against Seattle last Saturday, setting up a goal for Tomas Totland. His 17 assists have set up goals for 10 different team-mates.

MATCH PREDICTION – INTER MIAMI WIN

St Louis have lost three straight regular-season matches for the first time in franchise history. 

They had lost just three of their previous 18 regular-season matches in a run dating back to last September, winning five and drawing 10 in that span.

St. Louis did beat Miami 3-0 in the teams' first meeting last July, but a lot has changed since that game, which was the Herons' last before Messi debuted in the Leagues Cup six days later.

Miami's 3-1 loss to Atlanta was their first home defeat with Messi in their starting lineup, having previously won 10 and drawn one of 11 matches with the Argentine starting on home turf.

They are strong favourites to bounce back with victory over struggling opponents this weekend. 

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Inter Miami – 59.8%

St. Louis City – 19.1%

Draw – 21%

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