Messi and Busquets' Impact | A New Era for Inter Miami CF
Having watched countless MLS games in recent years, witnessing Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets' impact on their debut with Inter Miami CF was nothing short of extraordinary. Entering the match as substitutes in the 54th minute, they quickly transformed Miami's playing style and elevated their attacking prowess.
This outcome was hardly surprising, considering both Messi and Busquets are widely regarded as two of the greatest soccer players in history. But what specific changes did they bring to Inter Miami? How did manager Tata Martino utilize them, and how did they synergize to disrupt the opposing defense?
Let's delve into the details of this new era.
Early in the second half against Cruz Azul, Messi made his DRV PNK Stadium debut, warmly greeted by teammates and fans alike. He took his position nominally as a right winger but operated in a unique role in the right halfspace. This strategic move allowed Messi the freedom to move inside or outside as he pleased, using his exceptional left foot to his advantage. His attacking heatmap showcased his presence predominantly on the right half of the field.
Playing in this position played to Messi's strengths, as he could either cut inside with his signature dribbling or drift into the middle to receive passes and penetrate the opposition's defense. This was evident in his first touch for Miami, where he received a ball from Yedlin and dribbled skillfully through the entire Cruz Azul defense via quick one-twos with his teammates.
Despite Messi's defensive limitations, Martino used him as part of a front two in a 4-4-2 mid-block. This setup aimed to limit Messi's defensive responsibilities and support him with additional players behind the ball. As Miami integrates their younger summer signings, it should become easier for the team to absorb opposing attacks.
On the other hand, Sergio Busquets' role remained consistent, and he was tasked with anchoring Miami's possession play when he came off the bench. He exhibited his trademark line-breaking passes, effectively moving the ball into dangerous areas.
The connection between Busquets and Messi was remarkable, as they demonstrated a near-telepathic understanding on the field. Their years of playing together at FC Barcelona contributed to this chemistry, evident in how Busquets frequently delivered perfectly weighted line-breaking passes directly to Messi.
With Busquets' distribution from midfield and Messi's playmaking prowess in the right halfspace, Inter Miami underwent a significant transformation. Previously struggling to progress the ball precisely and quickly, they can now expect to climb the rankings in both progressive passes and attacking speed.
Overall, Inter Miami has become a completely different team with the addition of Messi and Busquets. While challenges may lie ahead, their clear roles and fantastic chemistry offer promising prospects for the team's future.