From El Salvador to Hong Kong: Messi and Inter Miami CF Gear Up for a Historic Season

Messi's Global Awakening in MLS

Inter Miami CF Celebrate Ballon d'Or Winner Lionel Messi
Inter Miami CF Celebrate Ballon d'Or Winner Lionel Messi / Megan Briggs/GettyImages
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Lionel Messi, the global soccer superstar, is set to embark on his second full season in Major League Soccer (MLS) with Inter Miami CF. The club has announced a six-match preseason itinerary, featuring an international tour across Asia. The matchups involve teams from different parts of the world, providing not only intensive preparation for the team but also a unique opportunity for global fans to witness Messi in action, further elevating the status of MLS on the international stage.

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Kickoff in Central America: El Salvador Hosts Messi's Show (January 19, 8:00 PM ET)

The journey begins in El Salvador, where Inter Miami will face the local team at Estadio Cuscatlán in San Salvador on January 19 at 8:00 PM Eastern Time. This will be an initial test for Messi and his teammates, facing a national team eager to challenge one of football's living legends.

Towards the Middle East: Epic Duels in Riyadh (January 29 and February 1, 1:00 PM ET)

The preseason takes on a global dimension as Inter Miami heads to the Middle East. First, on January 29, they will face Al Hilal SFC at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. On February 1, the sports world's attention will be focused on the Riyadh Season Cup, where Messi and his team will cross paths with Al Nassr FC, a team led by another football giant, Cristiano Ronaldo. It will be the 36th meeting between these two icons, promising a high-octane football spectacle.

Hong Kong and Tokyo: Messi on Asian Soil (February 4 and 7, time to be announced)

Inter Miami continues its epic journey, landing in Hong Kong for a clash against a local selection on February 4 at the Hong Kong Stadium, time to be announced. Next, on February 7, the team will face Vissel Kobe at the Japan National Stadium in Tokyo. In addition to the sporting challenge, this match promises a special reunion with Messi's former teammate, Andrés Iniesta, who now plays in the United Arab Emirates.

Lionel Messi
New York City FC v Inter Miami CF / Rich Storry/GettyImages

Return to Roots: Messi Comes Home (February 15, time to be announced)

The climax of the preseason will be the match on February 15, when Inter Miami faces Newell’s Old Boys at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. For Messi, this will be a return to his roots, facing the club where he began his career before becoming a global legend at FC Barcelona. Herons' coach Tata Martino also has a historical connection with Newell’s Old Boys, adding excitement to this encounter.

Epic Clash: Messi vs. Ronaldo in Riyadh Season Cup

The icing on the cake will be the highly anticipated showdown between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo on February 1. The Riyadh Season Cup will be the stage for another chapter in the intense rivalry between these two football giants. With 35 past encounters, Messi holds the advantage with 16 wins against Ronaldo's 10, along with nine draws. This duel promises to be one of the most exciting moments of the preseason and will be followed by fans worldwide.

Messi's Promise for 2024: Titles and International Glory

After a debut season where Messi dazzled North American fans and won the Leagues Cup in 2023, expectations for 2024 are high. The "Noche d'Or" event, celebrating Messi's eighth consecutive title as the world's best player, marked the beginning of a new era for Inter Miami.

The team, led by Messi and featuring experienced players like Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, is determined to compete on multiple fronts, including the Concacaf Champions Cup. Additionally, Messi expresses international ambitions by seeking to defend the Copa América title with the Argentine national team.

Messi's arrival in MLS not only raised the league's level but also drew global attention to American soccer. Inter Miami CF's journey in this preseason, spanning continents and facing renowned opponents, only increases the anticipation for a season that promises to be epic. Soccer in the United States has never been this exciting, and Messi is undoubtedly the catalyst for this phenomenon.