Messi, Busquets get 1st starts for Inter Miami


Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets were both named in Inter Miami CF’s starting lineup on Tuesday night for the first time since joining the MLS side.

The former Barcelona teammates will anchor Miami’s side in its Leagues Cup matchup with Atlanta United FC at DRV PNK stadium after coming on as substitutes to make their debuts in a dramatic win over Cruz Azul on Friday that saw Messi win the game on the final kick.

The game is also Miami manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino’s first against his former club Atlanta, which he led to the MLS Cup title in 2018. Martino, who was named Miami coach on June 28, confirmed on Monday that Messi would be the team’s captain against Atlanta and moving forward.

Busquets and Messi spent 13 years playing alongside each other in Barca’s first team before the Argentine moved to Paris Saint-Germain in 2021, and the two have remained close friends since their trophy-laden run at Camp Nou.

Last Friday, Messi produced a trademark moment of magic to give Miami a 2-1 win, curling a free kick from just outside the penalty area into the top corner to put a bow on the storybook saga that saw him ultimately sign with co-owner David Beckham’s side in MLS.

Miami and Miami are currently playing in the inaugural Leagues Cup competition — a World Cup style tournament between MLS and Liga MX sides. Messi could make his official debut in an MLS game at home against Charlotte on Aug. 20.

One player that will have to wait for his debut is another former Barcelona player in Jorda Alba, who signed for Miami on July 20, as he was not included in Miami’s squad list for the game against Atlanta.


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