‘Worse consequences’ – Why Lionel Messi was left out by Inter Miami for 5-2 defeat at Atlanta United as Tata Martino reacts to artificial pitch debate

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  • The seven-time Ballon d’Or winner was not involved at all as his Florida-based employers suffered a disappointing 5-2 loss on the road in their latest MLS fixture. The decision was made not to take any risks with Messi after seeing him pick up a slight knock while on World Cup qualifying duty with Argentina.

    Lionel Messi Inter Miami 2023

    THE BIGGER PICTURE

    Jordi Alba was also absent for Inter Miami, with head coach Martino claiming afterwards that gambles on the fitness of two key men may have ended up in them suffering more long-term damage. He told reporters: “There is some risk of having worse consequences if they came to play this match.”

    WHAT THEY SAID

    Martino is adamant that the artificial playing surface in Atlanta had no impact on his big selection calls, with the Argentine adding: “The field has nothing to do with it at all. This is the day-to-day life that we have ahead of us, because we have the quest to try to reach the play-offs. But we have the [Open Cup Final] on the 27th, so sometimes there are difficult decisions, because these are also decisive matches. But the reality is that there is a final set for the 27th. That’s just one game, for a title. The league is seven, eight more dates, and [even] if we win them all, it is not certain we get in. We started this run way behind. We won’t abandon our hopes, but our focus is on the 27th.”

  • Lionel Messi Inter Miami Leagues Cup trophy 2023Getty

    WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

    Inter Miami are due to face the Houston Dynamo in the U.S. Open Cup final, having already savoured Leagues Cup glory with Messi on board, and have seven more MLS fixtures in which to try and bridge a seven-point gap to the play-off places.

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