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Can Beckham RECREATE the Barca MAGIC?

5 minute read Published February 29, 2024

Last week a new season of the MLS started. Interest in the league is higher than ever. Because of one man in particular. You know who. When he joined, his former teammate Sergio Busquets was already in Miami. This winter Inter Miami has added another two from that incredible Barca team - Alba and Suarez.

If you have AppleTV+ you’ve seen what the marketing for the MLS looks like. It’s all Messi. Nothing wrong with that, any league he plays in would have done the same. And with the huge hispanic population of Miami in particular and the US in general, the South American has extra pulling power.

The four Barca legends will be playing for Tata Martino – another old Barca familiar.

Last season and expectations

Last season Inter Miami finished 14th out of 15 teams in the Eastern Division of the MLS. A big jump in performance is expected from the team this season. Of course – Messi only played four games in the MLS last season. The team significantly improved after he arrived and got three wins and a loss in the games he played. Good for a team in the bottom of the league.

But the big thing was the Leagues Cup, which is a cup played by teams from the Liga MX and MLS. Messi participated in seven games and Miami won it all. His production in these games was crazy; seven games, ten goals and an assist. So, it’s easy to see why Inter Miami is expected to be doing so much better.

Ahead of the season, Inter Miami are the odds favourites to win it. According to the odds, they’re more than twice as likely to win it as any other team. Los Angeles FC and Columbus Crew are the teams behind the Miami club.

Beckham has put together all these Barca legends – will this be a walk in the park? 

Pre-season disappointments

Inter Miami’s preseason was shrouded in disappointment. They played games across Asia – in Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and Japan. The tour made headlines because Messi got an injury and couldn’t play in the game against Hong Kong XI. Fans were very upset as they’d paid, almost exclusively, to see him. 

Speaking of disappointment. Out of eight pre-season friendlies, Inter Miami only managed to win a single game. A 6-0 thrashing from Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al Nassr was extra bad. Granted, Leo Messi only played a maximum of 60 minutes in these games. But it just further shows the reliance on the Argentinian.

Season start

Last week Inter Miami played two games in the MLS. Their first game of the season was against Real Salt Lake. A game they won 2-0 after assists from both Messi and Suarez. Then they took on their old teammate Riqui Puig and Los Angeles Galaxy, a game that finished 1-1.

And they were lucky to get a point. Inter Miami goalkeeper Callender was incredible and stopped a penalty in his man of the match performance. The game exposed the issues in the team. They were able to get away with the point only after a 92nd minute equaliser from Messi.

These players are getting on in years, they’re 34, 35, 36 and 37. While the level of football is lower in the MLS, the players certainly aren’t bad. Especially as the US also likes for athletes to focus on “athleticism” so the players are often very fast and strong.

Sergio Busquets used to play as the deeper midfielder in a three man midfield. At his sides he first had Xavi and Iniesta and then Frenkie De Jong. At Barcelona Busquets was the man who beat the press. He then laid it off to the more offensive midfielders to create. At Miami he’s expected to create, and that just isn’t his game. While he’s always been slow, ageing has only made him slower. In the game against Galaxy he caused a penalty after being overtaken by Galaxy’s winger, Paintsil.

Luis Suarez is unlikely to be a starter for long. He’s previously said his knees are damaged beyond repair and it shows in the way he plays. The Uruguayan used to be relentless but in his first few games for Miami it’s really obvious he’s lost a step. Don’t be surprised to see last year's starting striker Leonardo Campana retake that spot before long.

The truth is that the first steps I take in the morning are very painful. Anyone who sees me thinks it is impossible for me to play a game. My son asks me to play with him and I am not able to.

Jordi Alba and Messi still have their chemistry. They proved that in the game against Real Salt Lake with a beautiful goal by Messi after a series of one-two’s with Alba. Defensively the 34 years old has never been the greatest, and Inter constantly got overmanned down the left.

How will it go?

As long as Miami plays with a lot of possession they should be fine. Attacking wise, they’re the best in the league by a mile. Any team with Messi would be. However, in games where they’re a bit evenly matched however, they could be in trouble.

The final games of last season showed that Messi can take an MLS team from one of the worst teams in the league, to one of the best. The additions of Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba may be spectacular but they’re unlikely to be a huge contributor to Inter’s success this season. Because they will have success. At least compared to last season.

Messi has had a huge impact on the team. He alone contributed ten goals and an assist in their Leagues Cup triumph last season. Still one of the best players in the world and still looks unstoppable with the ball. Just look at him chipping a player laying down, never seen that before…

It’s a fantastic PR coup. Inter Miami is a very newly started club but through these players they’ve quickly become one of the most recognisable clubs in the world. However, it’s possible that PR comes at the expense of building for the future. But will they recreate the Barca magic? Doubtful.

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