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Lionel Messi, Inter Miami a Slim Underdog vs Atlanta United Saturday
Updated September 12, 2023
What: Atlanta United vs Inter Miami – MLS Regular Season
Where: Mercedes-Benz Stadium
When: Saturday, September 16th
MLS action proceeds this week, and on Saturday, all eyes will be on Lionel Messi and Inter Miami as they head to Georgia for an absolutely critical fixture with Eastern Conference rivals Atlanta United. The kick-off is scheduled for 5 PM ET at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Miami has still yet to lose since Messi arrived in South Florida and just beat Sporting KC 3-2 over the weekend, even though the Argentine wasn’t playing because he was on international duty with Argentina. As for Atlanta, they had the weekend off and last played on September 2nd, grabbing a lone point in a 2-2 draw with FC Dallas. Below, find the Atlanta United vs Inter Miami picks.
Atlanta is a very slim favorite here, with +141 odds for an implied win probability of 41.49%. Miami comes back at +160 and has a 38.46% chance of collecting the three points. Inter Miami has won both meetings with Atlanta this term, beating them in May in league action before thrashing United 4-0 in the Leagues Cup group stages in July behind a pair of braces from Messi and Robert Taylor.
Can Atlanta Find a Result?
It’s been a respectable campaign for Atlanta, who have missed the playoffs in two of the last three years. Right now, they sit in sixth place with an 11-8-9 record and look set to return to the postseason unless their form takes a turn for the worst. Scoring goals is a clear strength for Gonzalo Pineda Reyes’ men, netting 51 times in 28 outings. That’s the third-best mark in the MLS, behind only Columbus and St. Louis.
Greece international Giorgos Giakoumakis is the clear star up top, bagging 13 goals. Midfielder Thiago Almada is also shining, hitting the back of the net nine times and providing 13 assists. These two are key to Atlanta’s success. When it comes to current form, Atlanta could certainly use a victory, winning just two of their previous six MLS games. That includes defeats to New England, Cincinnati, and Orlando before the draw last weekend.
It was certainly a back-and-forth affair with Dallas. The hosts scored the opener before Giakoumakis equalized just before halftime. Atlanta then took the lead through Saba Lobjanidze, but Dallas hit back with another goal just minutes later. Keeping opponents out of their own net is a clear problem for Atlanta, and given just how vibrant Miami is in the final third, the backline has to be a lot better on Saturday. Or else, this match could be over relatively early.
Miami is Thriving
Let’s be honest. We all knew Messi would make an immediate difference for his new club. Since his debut in late July, Inter Miami has 11 wins in 12 and hasn’t lost. That scoreless draw with Nashville a couple of weeks ago is about the only result that didn’t totally go their way. What he’s done for the team is truly remarkable.
Miami has already won the Leagues Cup and will play in the US Open Cup final later this month for a chance at more hardware. Messi has done wonders for the confidence of this group, who just secured a massive victory over Sporting KC. Despite the Argentine missing due to international duty, Gerardo Martino’s squad produced the goods.
Leonardo Campana was the star of the show, netting a first-half brace. Facundo Farias also scored in the win. Messi will be back with Inter Miami for Saturday’s encounter, which is going to be an important one. Right now, the club is still 14th in the East but sits just six points behind the final playoff spot. With quite a few games left, they have every opportunity to make the postseason.
That being said, Miami can’t afford to drop any points moving forward. Every single game is crucial. The reality is that if they can sneak into the postseason, there’s no telling what Miami can pull off. We’ve seen what Messi, Sergio Busquets, and Jordi Alba have done and every single player in this squad has belief. An MLS Cup run is undoubtedly possible. But for now, it’s just about getting in. This clash in Atlanta is a must-win one.
Atlanta United vs Inter Miami Picks
Miami has run riot on Atlanta in recent memory, and I expect the same here. Hammer that moneyline. Messi and Co. will take another step towards qualifying for the postseason.