After winning the Leagues Cup and missing the final of the Open Cup in the United States, Lionel Messi missed several matches with Inter Miami.
In Major League Soccer (MLS), the legend’s last game had been on September 20, in the 4-0 defeat against Toronto.
Due to fitness issues and injury prevention, ‘Leo’ had a few days off and his team noticed.
In the last few weeks, the pink team lost the Open Cup final against Houston Dynamo and in MLS had draws against Orlando City and New York City, in addition to losing by a landslide against Chicago Fire.
This scenario made it very difficult for Inter to keep any hope of getting into the play-offs as they needed to win their last three games.
The great hope was the return of Messi, on Saturday, October 7, to face FC Cincinnati, a team that the Argentine’s team had eliminated in the Open Cup on penalties and there was a hostile atmosphere for the former Barcelona player.
DUELO SUDAMERICANO! Picante careo entre Leo Messi y el colombiano Santiago Arias en la MLS.
? SportsCenter (@SC_ESPN) October 8, 2023
Lionel Messi eliminated from MLS
For the match against the Cincinnati team, this time at home, Messi did not start and waited on the bench if he was needed.
After 55 minutes, it looked to be a very complicated match for Inter Miami and coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino decided to bring on the big star to look for the much-needed victory.
Although in the first half the former Barcelona man’s team had three shots against the woodwork and the rival goalkeeper was the star, in the second half, Cincinnati woke up and Lionel came in to regain control.
He didn’t have the desired impact as Messi barely had a couple of shots and chances, but in his search for a goal he found Colombian defender Santiago Arias.
The full-back, who has recovered his level after the serious injury that kept him away from the elite in Europe, was not only dangerous in attack but had great fitness to go up and down the flank.
Also, ‘Santi’ drew on the experience gained in Sporting Lisbon, PSV Eindhoven, Atletico Madrid and in the Colombian National Team itself, to manage the tempo and slow down the pace.
When FC Cincinnati‘s goal by Alvaro Barreal arrived, after a mistake by Sergio Busquets and a rebound by goalkeeper Drake Callender, Lionel Messi’s patience reached its limit and he felt that 12 minutes were too little time to turn the score around.
In stoppage time, when the Argentine was about to shoot, he was blocked by the Colombian and ended up on the ground.
Arias was holding his face, despite the fact that the foul was from behind and low, so ‘Leo’ tried to rush him to get him back on his feet, he even hit him on the back of the head and said a few words to him.
Arias started to spin around on the grass and then there was a face to face between them, meanwhile the referee came to separate them.
When the Colombia National Team’s fullback stood up, Messi went to reproach him and an exchange of words began, but the anger of the man born in Rosario was clear for all to see, while there was a mischievous smile from the native of Medellin (Colombia).
Lionel was so annoyed that he covered his mouth, in that gesture that prevents others from knowing what he was saying, while he continued to handle the situation with less tension.
The images went viral, especially after the defeat and elimination of Inter Miami.