Messi, Suarez fit for Inter Miami MLS opener

February 21, 2024
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Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are fit and ready to play for Inter Miami in the club's opening match of the Major League Soccer season

Miami, Feb 21 (IANS) Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez are fit and ready to play for Inter Miami in the club’s opening match of the Major League Soccer season against Real Salt Lake City, manager Gerardo Martino said.

The former Barcelona teammates will be the headline acts in Wednesday night’s clash at Inter Miami’s renamed Chase stadium in Fort Lauderdale, though they are not guaranteed starters.

“Messi and Suarez are ready to play, if 90 minutes are required, we will see this depending on the team’s needs,” Martino told a news conference.

Messi missed much of Inter Miami’s pre-season because of an adductor strain while Suarez has overcome a knee problem.

The other half of Inter Miami’s contingent of former Barcelona stars – defender Jordi Alba and midfielder Sergio Busquets – will also be available after recovering from recent injury concerns, reports Xinhua.

The only doubt for the Florida outfit is Argentine defender Nicolas Freire, who has a leg muscle injury.

“Freire is in doubt, but we have not yet confirmed his absence,” Martino said. “We are evaluating with the medical staff to what extent there is a risk and to what extent there is no risk.”

Inter Miami finished 14th in the MLS’s 15-team Eastern Conference last year with nine wins from 37 games.

The club, which is partly owned by former England captain David Beckham, is expected to vie for the league title this year following its glut of recent signings, led by Messi and Suarez.

But Martino is not thinking beyond the duel with Real Salt Lake City.

“We are preparing for all possibilities against a team that could choose to press high or sit back,” Martino said. “We have to be ready for all scenarios. But we are confident of having the answers and we believe that we are in good shape for the start of the new season.”

–IANS

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