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Leagues Cup Final Preview: Can Lionel Messi Take His Team From Zeros to Heros?

Lionel Messi stormed onto the scene. Now he has basically single-handily brought Inter Miami to the Leagues Cup Final to face reigning Golden Boot recipient and MLS MVP Hany Muktar and his Nashville SC team. We’re going to take a look at which of these teams will have enough to become the first-ever Leagues Cup Champions.

Messi and Inter Miami Has Been Unstoppable

Nashville SC has an impressive record against Inter Miami and has won four out of the eight matches played between the two teams, as opposed to Nashville SC’s two victories. But those stats go right out the window now that Inter Miami has Lionel Messi on the squad. Messi has been virtually unstoppable for Inter Miami.

Messi has already bagged nine goals and one assist in only six matches for the club. He has scored all his nine goals for Inter Miami in the Leagues Cup and has now become the competition’s top scorer despite playing three matches fewer than the rest of his competitors. If you think of this. Hany Mukhtar is the leader right now to win the Golden Boot again with 13 goals, he’s played 27 matches. Messi very well could win the Golden Boot himself in the regular MLS season.

The last three matches between these two teams have not produced a single clean sheet, with Nashville SC scoring eight goals and conceding four goals during this period. Since Lionel Messi joined Inter Miami, Robert Taylor has scored four goals in six matches – he had managed to score only five goals in the 60 games preceding this run.

Can Nashville’s Tough Defense Hold Strong?

Much like Philadelphia, the defense Nashville presents — on paper at least — is quite formidable. But the Union defense wilted under the pressure, despite playing at home. They sat back and played passively, and Messi and friends tore them apart. By the time they changed up the formation and tactics, it was far too late. 

While Nashville’s likely going to learn from those mistakes, they were fortunate to keep a clean sheet against Monterrey. They needed multiple key saves from keeper Elliot Panicco to preserve their one-goal advantage in the second half, and Monterrey was wasteful of a few opportunities as well. Nashville is led by Hany Muktar who has had a relatively quiet Leagues Cup. While he is the current MLS MVP and Golden Boot holder ( and leader in both categories ) he doesn’t have a goal in the tournament. That’s concerning because while Nashville has a tough defense, Messi has made tough defenses of the Americas look like children so far.

Who Will Win

The answer to this one is simple. Inter Miami, all the way. Lionel Messi has been a stud since setting foot in North America and this is the perfect way to crown the new king of American soccer. I think MLS needs to watch out because if Inter Miami can make the playoffs they could seriously be contenders for the MLS Championship. Yes, Nashville has played well during the Leagues Cup tournament but sometimes they have been more lucky than good and that just won’t be enough in this match versus Inter Miami.

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