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Breaking Down Lionel Messi’s Performance in Pre Season As Inter Miami Lose to Japan’s Vissel Kobe
- Lionel Messi and Inter Miami's pre-season preparations have not been ideal
- Messi' Inter Miami has won only one out of six games so far in pre-season
- Sports Brief looks at Messi's performances as the MLS season draws close
Lionel Messi's preparations for the upcoming 2024 MLS season has encountered hurdles, with another setback recorded in a pre-season match against Vissel Kobe.
Following his absence from a recent Hong Kong friendly, which drew criticism from fans, Messi took to the field in Japan as Inter Miami faced the J-League side.
Despite the 36-year-old's cameo appearance, Inter Miami suffered a defeat on penalties against Vissel. This result marks Messi's fourth loss in pre-season matches with Inter Miami.
Notably, the only victory for the MLS franchise as they prepare for the soon-to-start season came in a match against Hong Kong Select XI, a game the Argentine maestro missed due to injury.
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As Messi's pre-season performance garners attention, Sports Brief analyses the former Barcelona and PSG superstar's contributions across five matches.
vs El Salvador
The first match on the pre-season agenda was against El Salvador, resulting in a disappointing draw for Messi and his Inter Miami comrades.
This game marked Messi's reunion with his close friend and former Barcelona teammate, Luis Suarez, who joined the MLS franchise in the January transfer window.
Despite their combined efforts, the match concluded in a goalless stalemate, setting the tone for Messi and Inter Miami's pre-season journey, which has been less than ideal.
vs FC Dallas
Teaming up with Suarez for the second successive time since the latter's move to the MLS in January, Messi joined Inter Miami in a match against familiar opponents, FC Dallas.
Although he played for just over an hour, his presence on the field alongside former Barca teammates like Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets didn't significantly impact the game's outcome.
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Despite his best efforts, the 36-year-old received an average rating of 6.3 as Inter Miami fell to a narrow defeat, with Jesus Ferreira's early goal securing victory for FC Dallas.
vs Al Hilal
A week later, Leo Messi and his teammates travelled to Saudi Arabia for the Riyadh Season Cup, facing off against the 18-time Saudi champions, Al Hilal.
In the encounter, Messi finally found the back of the net in 2024, marking his first goal of the year. However, it didn't alter the game's fate as Al Hilal secured a 4-3 victory in a dramatic encounter.
Despite Hilal taking a commanding 3-1 lead before half-time, Inter Miami showed resilience in the second half, staging a comeback to level the score just 10 minutes after the break.
Yet, a late goal from ex-Barcelona winger Malcom dealt a decisive blow, securing the win for Al Hilal.
The highly anticipated matchup known as the 'Last Dance' between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi didn't unfold as expected, with the two football icons not facing off on the field.
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Instead, it was Ronaldo's teammate Anderson Talisca who stole the spotlight in CR7's absence, scoring a hat-trick to lead Al-Nassr to a resounding victory over Inter Miami.
Despite Ronaldo's absence, Messi entered the game for eight minutes, but Al-Nassr thoroughly dominated the match, securing an impressive 6-0 win over the MLS side, per Fan Nation.
vs Hong Kong
Four days later, Messi's Inter Miami faced off against a select side from Hong Kong.
Unfortunately, the 2022 World Cup winner was sidelined due to injury, disappointing the packed crowd.
However, his absence didn't hinder the team's performance, as Gerardo Martino's charges secured a convincing 4-1 victory over the Hong Kong Select XI, as cited by Al Jazeera.
This win marked Miami's first victory in five pre-season matches.
vs Vissel Kobe
The 4-1 victory against the Hong Kong Select XI was expected to boost Inter Miami's momentum, but they encountered another setback.
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A lacklustre performance at the New National Stadium in Tokyo resulted in a goalless draw after regulation time, GOAL reports.
Messi entered the game in the second half but couldn't inspire a goal as the MLS side suffered a 3-4 defeat to Vissel Kobe on penalty shootouts, with Robert Taylor, Noah Allen, and Gregore all failing to convert their spot-kicks for Inter.
Overall, Messi's performances in pre-season have been mixed, with flashes of brilliance tempered by disappointing results for Inter Miami.
Messi laughs at Inter Miami teammate
Sports Brief also reported that Messi was observed laughing at his teammate Robert Taylor after the Inter Miami forward missed two penalties during a friendly match on February 7.
Taylor's initial shot was saved, but the referee called for a retake due to the goalkeeper's infringement.
Despite this opportunity, Taylor's second attempt soared over the crossbar, prompting amusement from Messi and Alba.