Just seven matches into his Inter Miami career, Lionel Messi will look to lead the club to a first ever trophy as they take on Nashville SC in the 2023 Leagues Cup final.
Having already qualified Inter Miami for the 2024 CONCACAF Champions Cup by reaching this stage, securing the hardware would not only be a watershed moment for the club with its first cup since inception in 2020, but would then theoretically snag a spot in the yet-to-be confirmed 2024 Copa Interamericana.
The opponent standing in their way is Nashville SC, currently the Eastern Conference’s fourth-placed team in Major League Soccer. They skated past the final Liga MX side standing, Monterrey, in the semifinal thanks again to Hany Mukhtar’s consistent brilliance.
Messi and Inter Miami have blown every opposing defense out of the water so far, but they’ll need to also remain stout at the back to get their hands on the silverware that David Beckham covets.
The Sporting News is following the Nashville SC vs Inter Miami match live, providing score updates, commentary and highlights as they happen below.
Nashville SC vs Inter Miami live score
Nashville SC (4-4-1-1, right to left): 30. Panicco (GK) — 18. Moore, 3. MacNaughton, 25. Zimmerman, 2. Lovitz — 19. Muyl, 6. McCarty, 20. Godoy, 7. Picault — 10. Mukhtar — 9. Surridge.
Inter Miami (4-3-3, right to left): Callender (GK) — Yedlin, Kryvtsov, Miller, Alba — Arroyo, Busquets, Cremaschi — Messi, J. Martinez, Taylor.
Nashville SC vs Inter Miami live updates, highlights, commentary
40 mins to kick: Celebrities have followed Lionel Messi wherever Inter Miami goes lately, but there’s one recognizable individual at GEODIS Park who’s most certainly not there to see the Argentine. That’d be NBA player Giannis Antetokounmpo who’s a part-owner of Nashville SC and will be rooting hard for the home side tonight.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, part-owner of Nashville SC, is in attendance to watch his team face off against Lionel Messi and Inter Miami CF at the #LeaguesCup final 🙌
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) August 20, 2023
50 mins to kick: Lineups are in, and it’s exactly as we thought for Inter Miami — exactly how they’ve been throughout this entire Leagues Cup competition. Lionel Messi starts, as do Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba. An unchanged side from Gerardo Martino.
For Nashville SC, the only slight wrinkle is Jacob Shaffelburg does not start after being withdrawn from the previous match with an injury. He returned to training yesterday, but it’s Fafa Picault on the left wing from the off tonight.
— Inter Miami CF (@InterMiamiCF) August 20, 2023
1 hour to kick: While we wait for official lineups, which have been notoriously late all tournament, there’s the third-place match to keep an eye on. It further underpins what Inter Miami have done in this competition, as the Philadelphia Union side that Messi & Co. beat 4-1 just thumped Monterrey 3-0 at home. The Union are officially into the CONCACAF Champions League.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 19, 2023
1 hour 15 mins to kick: Here’s what’s at stake for the visitors at GEODIS Park in Nashville tonight: If Inter Miami win tonight, it would be the 44th official trophy of Lionel Messi’s career. It would be Inter Miami’s first in club history.
Lionel Messi, 43 career titles:
1 World Cup 🇦🇷
1 Copa America 🇦🇷
1 Finalissima 🇦🇷
1 U20 World Cup 🇦🇷
1 Olympic Gold Medal 🇦🇷
10 La Liga 🇪🇸
7 Copa del Rey 🇪🇸
8 Supercopa 🇪🇸
4 UEFA Champions League 🇪🇸
3 Club World Cups 🇪🇸
3 UEFA Super Cups 🇪🇸
2 Ligue 1 🇫🇷
1 Trophé des Champions 🇫🇷 pic.twitter.com/COPr15Rp3v
— Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) May 27, 2023
1 hour 30 mins to kick: Fascinatingly, as the game draws closer, there’s been significant betting line movement in Nashville’s direction. The visitors, in contrast, have been inflated on BetMGM from -110 to +105 on the 90 min moneyline, while their odds to win the competition go from -185 to -165.
There’s also been a shift towards fewer goals, with the over 3.5 goal mark going fro +125 to +155, a significant movement which shifts the perceived over from 3.5 to 2.5. The “yes” selection on both teams to score has also dropped from -220 to -175.
Inter Miami vs. Nashville
— Live on the Line (@LiveontheLine) August 19, 2023
1 hour 45 mins to kick: Lionel Messi spoke to the media on Thursday in his first press conference as an Inter Miami player. Amidst constant questions about how his life is in Miami — you’ll be shocked to learn that he loves it in South Florida — Messi pushed back on recent speculation about his future matches with the club.
There have been some questions asked about whether Messi will decide to play on artificial turf fields given the perceived increased injury risk. Amidst speculation that he may hold himself out of those games, Messi said that he won’t mind playing on artificial turf should he be asked to, as he played on such surfaces while a youth player at Barcelona.
It won’t come into play tonight, as the pitch at GEODIS Park in Nashville is natural grass, it will become a talking point down the road, including September and October away matches at Atlanta and Charlotte.
Leo Messi has no problem with playing on turf. 👀
Atlanta StubHub about to blow up. 📲 pic.twitter.com/b4ZKjXJbc3
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) August 17, 2023
2 hours to kickoff: Welcome to live coverage of the Leagues Cup final from The Sporting News!
When Lionel Messi and Inter Miami play a road game, Major League Soccer clubs are still struggling to cope with a balance between matching ticket price to demand but not pricing out the home fans. It’s been a losing battle for the home fans so far.
For this match, some tickets have reached as high as $10,000, with it not only being Messi in town but also a final. Nashville SC midfielder Dax McCarty was not shy about how he feels that negatively impacts the local supporter base.
Dax McCarty on @mljthepod: “I feel really bad for our loyal day-one fans who have been there that are priced out of this game. It’s a huge moment in Nashville SC history and its a shame they won’t be there with us.”https://t.co/dF31b3CwIA
— Ben Wright (@benwright) August 17, 2023
Nashville SC vs Inter Miami lineups, team news
The biggest question for Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith was who to start in front of Hany Mukhtar at striker. Teal Bunbury, who was deployed in the semifinal but hauled off at halftime, has only made it past the 65-minute mark once in Leagues Cup play, while new designated player Sam Surridge provided a goal and assist off the bench against Monterrey. Indeed, it’s the DP who gets the spot from the get-go in the final.
After a tough start to the year, midfielder Dax McCarty is in exceptional form, while Walker Zimmerman and Shaq Moore are recognizable players for USMNT fans. Nick DePuy, out for some time with an Achilles tear, is the only injury concern.
Nashville SC starting lineup (4-4-1-1): Panicco (GK) — Moore, MacNaughton, Zimmerman, Lovitz — Muyl, McCarty, Godoy, Picault — Mukhtar — Surridge.
Nashville SC subs (12): Willis (GK), Martino (GK), Maher, Wyke, Bauer, Washington, Davis, Anguna, Haakenson, Leal, Shaffelburg, Bunbury.
Eventually, rest will be required for the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, and Jordi Alba, but in the club’s first-ever cup final, now is most certainly not the time. They all start, and will likely ride the full 90 minutes, or close to it, unless the scoreline is secure much earlier.
The only injury misses for Inter Miami are long-term absentees Gregore, Jean Mota, Corentin Jean, Franco Negri and Ian Fray. Gregore could possibly return from his foot injury soon, but he will need to be built up to full match fitness, and has yet to appear in a match in any capacity. His return will be important as he will be a capable understudy for Busquets who, as mentioned, will eventually need his minutes managed.
Inter Miami starting lineup (4-3-3): Callender (GK) — Yedlin, Kryvtsov, Miller, Alba — Arroyo, Busquets, Cremaschi — Messi, J. Martinez, Taylor.
Inter Miami subs (12): Jensen (GK), Dos Santos (GK), Neville, McVey, Aviles, N. Allen, Ulloa, D. Ruiz, D. Gomez, Farias, Robinson, Campana.
How to watch Nashville SC vs Inter Miami
The match from GEODIS Park will kick off at 8 p.m. local time in Nashville in front of what is expected to be yet another sold-out crowd to watch Lionel Messi in action, now with the added wrinkle of a trophy on the line.
Like all MLS and Leagues Cup matches, this game is available all around the world via MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.
Specifically for the final, a Spanish-language broadcast of the game is also available in the United States on TUDN and Univision, which can be streamed on Fubo in the United States.
Nashville SC vs Inter Miami betting odds and lines
You think anyone is betting against Inter Miami at this point? The only real questions around this club’s long-term viability were emphatically answered against the Philadelphia Union, as they ferociously dismantled one of the most organized and successful teams in MLS.
Sure, Nashville are a talented side, deserve to be in the final, and they very well may come away with the title here. Yet only a fool is passing on nearly even-money odds on this in-form Lionel Messi-led Miami club, no matter who the opponent may be.
to score Y / N
|Over / Under
|+230||+260||-110||-210 / +140||+125 / -185||+130||-185|
|3.20||3.64||1.88||—||1.49 / 2.43||—||—|
|3.20||3.75||2.03||1.48 / 2.60||—||—||—|