The global superstars could be in line to take the night off as Inter Miami resumes regular-season play Saturday night at the New York Red Bulls.
They were, however, available for selection, meaning Messi and Busquets aren’t guaranteed to sit out the entire game. Whether they do that or enter as substitutions remains to be seen.
Inter Miami coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino indicated that this could be a possibility Friday afternoon. He was non-committal when asked whether or not Messi would play, a difference from when he was asked the same question ahead of Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup semifinal against FC Cincinnati.
Instead, Martino said a decision would be made based upon Inter Miami’s light training session Friday evening.
Inter Miami’s matchup against the Red Bulls is the club’s third game in the last week. Saturday is their ninth game since July 21, and they haven’t had a full week off since mid July.
Inter Miami will play in a 5-3-2 formation, the same one as Wednesday’s. Leonardo Campana and Facundo Farias are starting at forward; David Ruiz, Diego Gomez and Dixon Arroyo are starting at midfield; and Robert Taylor, Tomas Aviles, Kamal Miller, Noah Allen and Alba are starting at defense. Drake Callender is starting in net.
That leaves other regular starters Josef Martinez, DeAndre Yedlin and Benjamin Cremaschi on the bench. Center-back Sergii Kryvtsov is not listed as an available substitute. This will be Farias’ first Inter Miami start.
This is the first time Messi and Busquets are not in the starting lineup since they debuted together as second-half substitutes against Cruz Azul. They’ve both played the entire length of Inter Miami’s last six matches, including 120 minutes on Wednesday night.
Messi has absolutely lived up to the hype with Inter Miami, scoring 10 goals in eight games. Miami is unbeaten since he and Busquets joined, and they’ve already broughten Inter Miami their first trophy in club history.
Busquets has one assist and zero goals with Inter Miami, but the stats don’t tell the full story. He’s been a calming presence in the midfield both as a distributor and a defender.