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Inter Miami vs Atlanta United: Atlanta’s rest can ruin Messi’s second game

Inter Miami vs Atlanta United: Atlanta's rest can ruin Messi's second game

Everyone is talking about Inter Miami. Lionel Messi made his first appearance for the club from the bench in the League Cup opener against Cruz Azul and marked it with a stunning stoppage-time free-kick to tie the game.

Now he looks set to make his first start when Atlanta United travel to Florida to kick off their League Cup campaign.

Jack Collins here from The Game Day to look at the matchup between two of the most exciting teams in the US right now.

Inter Miami vs. Atlanta United

Inter Miami vs Atlanta United betting lines are valid from Monday 24th July at 12pm ET at bet365 Sportsbook.

Three Way Money Line: Miami (+115) • Draw (+250) • Atlanta (+210) Total Goals: Over 2.5 (-150) • Under 2.5 (+115) Both Teams to Score: Yes (-175) • No (+125)

Inter Miami vs Atlanta United match prediction

Inter Miami 1:2 Atlanta United

Miami has felt like the center of the football universe at times this past week. After all the hype and excitement of signing the world’s best player, however, it felt like the actual action on the pitch was an afterthought.

This is no longer the case after Messi finally appeared off the bench in an Inter Miami shirt for the first time on Friday. And in the dying seconds of the game, he curled a goal from a free kick into the top corner and the roof came off the DRV PNK Stadium.

If the Hollywood writers weren’t on strike, you’d be forgiven for thinking this was the end of a well-written blockbuster.

Tata Martino is at the helm, Lionel Messi is doing Lionel Messi things, Sergio Busquets made a second-half run from midfield and the cavalry looks to be on the way in the form of Jordi Alba and maybe Luis Suarez.

For a club that couldn’t buy a morale boost in the first half of the MLS season, fans must feel like they’ve died and gone to heaven. The green expanse of that field in Florida is the equivalent of the stages of Elysium for those who wanted to see the great Barcelona band back together in force.

But before that cavalry arrives, this Miami side has a tough task ahead of them in the form of Atlanta United coming to town and vying for the Argentine number 10 throne. Thiago Almada is a diminutive, creative force from the center of the park, pulling the strings from open play and returning time and time again from dead balls. Sound familiar?

And that’s very much not the only narrative presented here. Tata Martino and Josef Martinez were a powerful force together in the red and black five stripes, winning Atlanta’s first (and only) MLS Cup in 2018 – a season in which Martinez scored 35 goals in all competitions.

So there’s plenty of lore around this, but on the pitch it’s a matter of momentum versus rest. Atlanta have had a 10-day break since their last game, while Miami opened their Leagues Cup account on Friday.

That rest could allow Atlanta superstar forward Giorgos Giakoumakis to return to the starting lineup. He missed a couple of games after suffering a strain injury against Philadelphia, but he was fit enough to feature in the final minutes of Atlanta’s opener – and will be desperate to get back on track and back between the goals.

His fitness, Atlanta’s time off, and the anticipation that has only grown in Miami feel like major signs of an upset. Atlanta will want to prove a point against their old coach and talisman, and Almada will see an opportunity to make obvious headlines against his idol.

Miami’s momentum could show more magic, but after a fairytale script last time out, Atlanta should have enough to crash the party and get their campaign off to a perfect start.

Inter Miami vs Atlanta United Best Bet

Atlanta to win (+210) • bet365 Sportsbook

Busquets may have looked overwhelmed, and Messi stunning in the second half against Cruz Azul, but Atlanta have enough artillery in their arsenal to upset the Apples here. The upset and road win look like good bets.

Giorgos Giakoumakis Anytime Scorer (+160) • bet365 Sportsbook

The Greek striker has missed a few games recently, but feels like he will be back to full form when this game starts. He’s a killer in the box, a serious handful for defenders, and he’s scoring at a rate of one every 97 minutes in MLS so far. Miami is still inconsistent in defending set pieces, and he can benefit from that here.