Messi and I agreed on his rest – Inter Miami’s Martino on benching ‘the GOAT’

Inter Miami coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino has justified his choice to bench Lionel Messi in Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Montreal.

Messi, aged 36, had participated in every minute of Miami’s three MLS matches in 2024, along with their Concacaf Champions League fixture against Nashville SC last Thursday.


“We talked about it about a week ago and we agreed that this was the game where he had to rest, regardless of what happened in the game with Nashville,” Martino said of Messi.

Martino had announced his plans during the preseason to rotate Messi and other senior players throughout the season. Additionally, Miami’s squad includes former Barcelona players Jordi Alba, aged 34, Sergio Busquets, aged 35, and Luis Suárez, aged 37.


“We also must make sure our team is healthy and can last an entire season,” he said.

Speaking after Sunday’s game, Inter Miami’s first defeat of the season, Martino said, “I think we more than deserved to win the game. Clearly, it was a game we should have won.”


Martino also accused Montreal players of time-wasting late in the game.

“Before the league started, we had to listen for an hour to a talk about what the spirit of the league was and the spirit of the league was not seen today,” he said.

“There was a team that did not want to play. In each situation of a throw-in, of a goal kick, or of a foul, permanently wasted time with the collaboration of a referee, who took 30 seconds to write down the shirt number of the cautioned player.”

Inter Miami have conceded five goals in their last two games and Martino admitted to being concerned by their defensive capabilities.

“What worries me is that we are a team that does not defend hard in the moments when it has to defend, be it when the ball is in play or in dead-ball situations,” Martino said.

Inter Miami are back in action on Wednesday when they take on Nashville SC in the 16th round of the second leg of the Concacaf Champions Cup. They drew the opening leg 2-2.

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