Friday, September 29, 2023

Lionel Messi still ‘unplayable’ and has ‘transformed’ Inter Miami says manager of his latest MLS casualties

Lionel Messi was at his ‘absolutely clinical’ best for Inter Miami in their Leagues Cup final triumph.

That’s according to Nashville head coach Gary Smith, who was on the receiving end of the Argentine’s magic on Saturday night.

Messi was on hand to shine once again for Inter MiamiGetty

Smith’s side fought well but couldn’t beat a rejuvenated MiamiGetty

Messi continued his incredible start to life in Miami by helping them win their first ever major title.

He scored the opener in a 1-1 draw against Nashville before they won 10-9 on penalties to lift the Leagues Cup.

Messi’s goal in particular showcased his amazing talent, a curling strike into the top-left corner of the goal from outside the area.

It took his scoring record to ten in seven games for the club, and Smith knew beforehand that a challenge awaited him and his side.

Speaking exclusively to talkSPORT, he said: “It was going to be a difficult one going into the game.

“Amazingly, Miami have been transformed in this last month, five weeks, the addition of Messi as you know and [Sergio] Busquets and [Jordi] Alba have made such a difference to that team.

“So we knew it was going to be a tough one but the guys put in a wonderful performance and I think when you go to penalties and the goalkeepers are going to be the difference, you know that it’s the finest of margins.”

When asked how difficult it is to try and shut Messi out, he replied: “He literally had two efforts at goal in the game, I want to say he probably didn’t touch the ball more than eight or ten times. But the unfortunate thing is, he is just unplayable in those moments.

Smith revealed to talkSPORT what it was like to play against the World Cup winnertalkSPORT

“Part of the process was to obviously try and limit that, crazily he ended up on the ball through strange circumstances, bit of a ricochet and the rest of it you’re fully aware of. He’s absolutely clinical and the finish is magnificent.”

He continued: “The games that we watched leading into our match-up, some of the teams over here had probably just given him a little bit too much respect.”

“It was very much part of the process to just be ourselves in that way, try and impose our game on them, we were at home, fantastic crowd, wonderful atmosphere.

“I did honestly think that my players were able to feed off that energy and for good portions of the game showed an awful lot of passion and I genuinely thought we were the better side. But unfortunately it didn’t come our way.”

Messi has added yet another trophy to his amazing collectionGetty

The Leagues Cup is the 44th major trophy that Messi has won during his illustrious career.

Miami may very well remain bottom of the MLS Eastern Conference, but should the World Cup winner continue his almighty form, they will surely rise up the table very soon.

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