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The fixture between Inter Miami and Columbus is likely to turn out to be a cagey and closely-contested affair. Columbus has played with more flair throughout the season, and their current position in the points table is a testament to that. However, with the arrival of Inter Miami’s new coach Gerardo Martino, the club is likely to show more resilience in their approach.
Columbus are currently seated at the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference points table while Inter Miami will play for the pride and to earn bragging rights of doing a double over the visitors in the ongoing season.
However, the Bruce Arena-managed side will have plenty of adjustments to make in their starting XI after losing all their fixtures in June.
Inter Miami started with a 1-2 loss to D.C United in June before registering a 1-3 drubbing against New England and a heavy 4-1 loss to Philadelphia. The only positive for Inter Miami in the last month was their win over Birmingham Legion FC in the quarter-final of the U.S Open Cup, with Nicolas Marcelo Stefanelli netting the lone goal in the 56th minute.
The visitors, meanwhile, will be high on confidence after an unbeaten run in the month of June. Wilfried Nancy managed his troop well, producing four wins and a draw last month. Christian Ramirez and Cucho Hernandez were crucial in front of the goal during their fine run last month and will look to carry on their goal-scoring momentum against Inter Miami.
Inter Miami and Columbus have faced off five times in the MLS. Inter Miami has won three times, while Columbus clinched victory in two contests. None of the matches played between the clubs have ended in a draw.
Their previous meeting in the MLS took place in April. In that fixture, Leonardo Campana scored a goal each on either side of the half to guide Inter Miami to a 2-1 victory over Columbus. Hernandez netted the lone goal for Columbus in the 10th minute.
In 2022, the clubs faced off twice, with both sides winning one game each. Meanwhile, in October 2021, Columbus recorded a victory by a 4-0 win over Inter Miami. This win is recorded as a win by the highest margin between the two sides. In September 2021, Inter Miami had defeated Columbus 1-0.
However, there will be plenty of concerns for both sides. Inter Miami have registered one win, three losses, and a draw in their last five fixtures at home. Columbus' away record has also been abysmal, registering three losses, one win, and a draw.
Inter Miami registered a draw against Austin in the last home fixture while they shared spoils with New York City in their last away match.
Inter Miami will be eager to do the double over Columbus in the ongoing season of MLS. Last time, when both clubs squared off last time, Campana’s brace helped Inter Miami end a 6-game losing streak. It was the first loss for Columbus at home this season after registering three wins and a tie.
Interestingly, it will also be a big test for Inter Miami’s new coach Martino, who guided the club to a draw against Austin in his first match as the manager. It was a positive start to the Martino era at Inter Miami as the club prepares to line up former Barcelona teammates Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets in the squad later this month.
Martino will likely use his 4-2-3-1 formation against Columbus, with Josef Martinez as the lone forward. The midfield is likely to consist of Robbie Robinson, Rodolfo Pizarro, Benjamin Cremaschi, David Ruiz, and Dixon Arroyo. Meanwhile, Robert Taylor, Ian Fray, Serhiy Kryvtsov, and Noah Allen will complete the backline.
In a stark contrast between the two clubs, the hosts will have to manage their squad with a large number of absentees due to join. Apart from the long-time absentee Franco Negri, Inter Miami will be without the services of full-back DeAndre Yedlin, center-back Ryan Sailor, Kamal Miller, Corentin Jean, and Jean Mota.
It is understood that Miller and Yedlin are still to return to the fold from the CONCACAF Gold Cup. Meanwhile, the visitors will be missing out on the services of Will Sands, who is out due to a knee injury.
Inter Miami will rely on their leading goal scorer Martinez to take them home in the upcoming fixture. The Venezuelan forward has netted five times in 17 appearances for his side in the ongoing season. Midfielder Rodolfo Pizarro will support him, while Campana will provide another option as a forward to freshen the line-up.
Campana, however, has not fired to the best of his ability, as he found the net only thrice in 13 appearances. The likes of Finnish midfielder Robert Taylor have scored and assisted twice each and will be extremely crucial for the side along with Jean Mota and Christopher McVey.
Similarly, Zelarayan will be the key to finding the net for Columbus. He has been the leading goal scorer for the club, netting eight times in 17 appearances and assisting seven times. It is notable that Columbus has not relied on only one player for their fine run in the ongoing season.
Ramirez has scored seven goals for Columbus, while Hernandez is third on the list with five to his name. In fact. Hernandez is among the most valuable players on the side and will be looking to make his presence felt again, as he also has nine assists to his name.
Meanwhile, Alexandru Matan has assisted eight times, while Mohamed Farsi and Jacen Russell-Rowe have four assists each.
In their bid to qualify for the 2023 MLS playoffs, Columbus are on a six-match unbeaten run. This run started with their 3-2 win over Colorado in June. Zelarayan (37th minute), Sean Zawadzki (62’), and Hernandez (72’) netted the goals for Columbus in that match, while Sam Nicholson and Cole Bassett scored one each for the away side.
The Nancy-managed side later clinched victories over Charlotte and Chicago before registering a 1-1 draw against New York City. The club then returned to the winning fold with their wins over Nashville and NY Red Bulls.
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With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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