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Three key acquisitions have helped Inter Miami regain momentum and end their struggle this season. The former Barcelona trio of Jordi Alba, Lionel Messi, and Sergio Busquets has helped the team perform so well that they have the third-best odds to win their maiden MLS title this year despite being 11 points off the final series play-off spot. Their last win against the New York Red Bulls was a statement of intent, clarifying that they are pursuing a playoff spot this season.
Meanwhile, their next opponents are already in one of the playoff spots and were hovering near the top of the table earlier this season. However, they are 16 points behind Conference leaders FC Cincinnati. Nashville SC came extremely close to winning the 2023 Leagues Cup but were halted by Inter Miami in the final on penalties. To make matters worse, their return to the MLS was ruined by Atlanta United this past weekend after the hosts nabbed a massive 4-0 win.
The odds are stacked strongly in favor of Inter Miami in this encounter. They are strong favorites to continue their nine-game winning streak across all competitions. The club are in formidable form, and Nashville SC will not be able to keep their opponents at bay in this match.
Both clubs are relatively new in the MLS and have only met nine times across all competitions. In an almost balanced head-to-head record, Nashville SC are edging in front with four wins, while Inter Miami have won thrice. Only two games have ended in a draw.
Before pipping Nashville SC for the Leagues Cup title almost two weeks ago, Inter Miami also eliminated them from the US Open Cup in May, when the two clubs last met at the DRV PNK Stadium.
However, the venue has not always given Nashville SC nightmares. When the 2023 Leagues Cup runners-up last visited the DRV PNK Stadium in the MLS, it was in the 2021 season, and they came back with all three points after a stellar 5-1 win.
In total, the two clubs have played only three MLS games in Inter Miami’s backyard. The maiden encounter ended in a goalless draw in 2020. The second encounter came one year later, and Inter Miami nabbed a narrow 2-1 win before Nashville SC handed them a 5-1 thumping in the third match.
Established just five years ago, the expectations from Inter Miami are quite high at this point of the season. When the current MLS season approached the mid-season break, it seemed that Inter Miami’s season was done and dusted.
The club were sitting at the bottom of the Supporters Shield table with just 18 points from 22 games. However, the arrival of Alba, Busquets, and Messi brought hope at the right time for the club as they went on to win their first major trophy during the mid-season break.
After winning the 2023 Leagues Cup, the club beat Conference leaders FC Cincinnati in the US Open Cup and secured a spot in another cup competition final. This miraculous resurgence has handed the club a chance to pursue and potentially nab a playoff spot this season.
Inter Miami will be extremely happy after ending an 11-game winless streak in the MLS after last weekend’s 2-0 success over New York Red Bulls. The club will face a bigger test as they take on Nashville SC before facing the defending champions, Los Angeles FC, on Sunday.
Despite being in turbulent form, Nashville SC can be touted as the dark horses of the league. Meanwhile, Los Angeles FC will be out to defend their first title this season and will not make things easy for the resurging Inter Miami side.
The two tough games in quick succession have raised a dilemma for Inter Miami coach Gerardo Martino. In the last game, Alba was placed in the starting lineup, but Messi and Busquets started from the bench.
At the hour mark, both players came on, and Messi scored his first league goal in the 89th minute. It will be interesting to see if the Argentine starts in the next game or has to make another substitute appearance so that he can stay fit for the game against Los Angeles FC.
The performance of Nashville SC in the 2023 Leagues Cup was quite stellar till the final, but that will not distract the club from the fact that they entered the tournament after a series of unfortunate defeats in the domestic league.
Nashville SC entered the break on the back of three consecutive defeats that came against Chicago Fire, Philadelphia Union, and FC Cincinnati. The club were expected to bounce back despite disappointment in the Leagues Cup final but suffered a fourth defeat last weekend.
Including the loss against Atlanta United, Nashville SC have now lost six of their last seven games in the MLS. The only win came against DC United at the start of July. The club will need a miraculous win over Inter Miami to end the abysmal streak.
The defensive duo of Lukas MacNaughton and Walker Zimmerman has frustrated quite a few strikers this season. Jack Maher has also been a key figure in the Nashville SC defense but had a horrible outing in the last game.
In addition, Zimmerman is set to miss the meeting with Inter Miami due to a hip injury. Coach Gary Smith will hope for the best out of MacNaughton and Maher in the next game as they try to keep Messi and co. quiet.
In the match against Atlanta United, Nashville SC were without the services of left-back Taylor Washington and left-winger Fabrice Picault. Both players served their respective suspensions during the last game and are expected to be back in the lineup against Inter Miami.
Washington has not been a regular starter for Nashville SC but boosts their squad depth and adds more options on the left flank. Meanwhile, Picault has been an important figure in the team as he has scored four goals and assisted one in 20 league appearances this season.
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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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