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Inter Miami predicted lineup: Lionel Messi combined with Josef Martinez and Leonardo Campana could be lethal

Things may have started slow for Inter Miami when it came to their midseason roster build but as things pick up, more deals are beginning to happen to build Tata Martino’s team for a playoff push. With the top nine teams in the Eastern Conference all having a shot at MLS Cup and the Herons also being in the U.S. Open Cup and Leagues Cup, there is a very slim chance that the side could win a domestic treble despite likely being at the bottom of the Eastern Conference when Lionel Messi finally takes the pitch — which is anticipated to be July 21st against Cruz Azul at DRV PNK Stadium.

That may show that too many teams are allowed into MLS playoffs as the Eastern Conference only has 15 teams, but with no promotion and relegation, it gives clubs something to play for until the final moments of the season. But for Inter Miami, it makes it easier to break the season into two parts. Before Messi and after Messi. Once the Argentinian maestro joins the side, they’ll be harder to stop in attack but defense is going to continue to be a concern until more are added into the fold.

Tata Martino usually lines up in a 4-3-3 but at times can employ more of a 3-5-2. Given the Herons roster, it’d be easier to expect them to start out with a back three unless more moves are made because defense has been their strong suit and it can ensure that Messi and the midfield don’t have to do too much running, trying to employ a press during the season.

Starting at the back, Miami will be in strong hands as Drake Callender has become one of the best goalkeepers in the league. Now on the fringes of the United States men’s national team picture, Callender makes keeper one of the few places that Martino doesn’t need to worry much about. Along with Fray, right back DeAndre Yedlin and center back Sergey Kristov have been among the few constants at the back. Franco Negri was expected to play alongside them at left back but with his injury is where we begin to dip our toe into the non-Messi signings around the team.

Once he joins, Jordi Alba will head out to left back and MLS will see if he can have a similar impact to Ashely Cole joining the Los Angeles Galaxy or if he’ll become a liability in the summer heat of Fort Lauderdale. Talent wise Alba should be able to make an impact on both ends of the pitch after still contributing in his final season at Barcelona, but that’s where it can be hard to judge transfers into the league like this.

They come with additional questions:

  • Will this player feature on turf?
  • How will traveling thousands of miles from Fort Lauderdale to Vancouver impact their rest? 
  • At 34 or older, can they even play more than 60 minutes in any match? It’s another lens to what Martino will have to manage but if he can keep his aging players fresh there’s no reason why they can’t rise up the table.

It’s another lens to what Martino will have to manage, but if he can keep his aging players fresh, there’s no reason why they can’t rise up the table. Christopher McVey and Ian Fray will likely make up the rest of the backline but Noah Allen will also get time as there will be plenty of rotation. In midfield, some of the same questions surround the arrival of Sergio Busquets. The benefit of playing in front of a back three is that Busquets could be allowed to sit deep and ping passes while his mind reads the game faster than it can develop in front of him. Dixon Arroyo would likely partner Busquets to do the running in midfield but that second spot would be up for grabs.

Things start to get interesting when the attacking trio comes into play as they’re the most set-in-stone members of the side other than Callender in net. Messi will be able to create chances for two of the best strikers in the league in Josef Martinez and Leonardo Campana. That striker duo will create space for Messi to score because his shooting hasn’t lost anything over the years, and it’s all coming together to be something exciting for Miami.

Depth will be a concern but if the aging players can perform to the levels that they reached in Europe, there’s no reason why this can’t be a playoff team and more:

Predicted lineup

Drake Callender; DeAndre Yedlin, Sergey Kristov, Christopher McVey Ian Fray, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Dixon Arroyo; Lionel Messi, Josef Martinez, Leonardo Campana.

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