Messi returns to Inter Miami practice. Will he play in Champions Cup?

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Inter Miami star Lionel Messi returned to practice with his teammates Tuesday, but coach Tata Martino said he will be a game-day decision for Wednesday’s highly anticipated Concacaf Champions Cup match.

Messi has been sidelined since March 13 with a right hamstring injury, with a targeted return date of Wednesday for the first of two matches against LIGA MX powerhouse Monterrey in the Champions Cup quarterfinals. 

It’s unclear whether Messi is ready to return, with Martino suggesting Inter Miami must keep the length of the MLS season in mind despite the significance of the Monterrey match. It’s also important to note if Messi plays, it’s unclear how much he will participate, and whether he would start or come off the bench.

“Tomorrow. Tomorrow, we’ll figure it out. He trained today. We still have 24 hours,” Martino said with a smile during a news conference Tuesday. “The first thing is Leo has been injured, and to manage that injury. We know we’re going to have a very important game.

“We just began April. This is just the beginning for us, and we can’t risk the physical condition of our players. We’re going to decide what’s best for Leo, and we’re going to make the appropriate decisions.”

Messi was hampered by his hamstring injury during Inter Miami’s win over Nashville SC in the quarterfinal of the tournament early last month. Messi played 50 minutes of the second-leg match before an early exit March 13, and was seen getting his hamstring massaged by trainers during the first leg one week earlier. 

Along with missing three Inter Miami matches, which resulted in a win, loss and draw for the MLS regular season, Messi missed two friendlies with Argentina in Philadelphia and Los Angeles late last month to rehab the injury. 

How to watch Inter Miami vs. Monterrey live stream? 

Inter Miami and Monterrey will begin at 8 p.m. ET at Chase Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The game will air on FS1 in English, and TUDN in Spanish.

TICKETS: Experience Messi and Inter Miami in person against Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions Cup Quarterfinal

SHOP: Get the latest Messi and Inter Miami gear from the MLS Store

What to know about Inter Miami vs. Monterrey?

Inter Miami won the Leagues Cup title shortly after Messi’s arrival last August, which granted the club a berth into the Champions Cup and a chance to compete for a second title in the Messi era. 

Monterrey is tied for first place in the LIGA MX Clasura table with Club América, which will compete against MLS club New England Revolution on Tuesday night in another Champions Cup quarterfinal matchup. 

Monterrey enters the match coming off its first loss in 13 matches (with eight previous wins and four draws) to start the calendar year after a 2-0 loss to Guadalajara on Saturday. 

How to watch Champions Cup quarterfinals live stream? 

The first leg of the quarterfinals are on Tuesday and Wednesday. The second legs will be played on April 9 and 10. All matches will be available on FS1. 

∎Tuesday: Columbus Crew (USA) vs. Tigres UANL (MEX), 7 p.m. ET

∎Tuesday: New England Revolution (USA) vs. Club America (MEX), 9 p.m. ET

∎Wednesday: Inter Miami CF (USA) vs. CF Monterrey (MEX), 8 p.m. ET

∎Wednesday: CS Herediano (CRC) vs. CF Pachuca (MEX), 10 p.m. ET

Second leg matchups: 

∎April 9: Tigres UANL (MEX) vs. Columbus Crew (USA), 8 p.m. ET

∎April 9: Club America (MEX) vs. New England Revolution (USA), 10:20 p.m. ET

∎April 10: CF Pachuca (MEX) vs CS Herediano (CRC), 8 p.m. ET

∎April 10: CF Monterrey (MEX) vs Inter Miami CF (USA), 10:20 p.m. ET

What is Inter Miami’s upcoming schedule? 

Expect Inter Miami to prioritize their Champions Cup matches, with Messi likely limited for MLS regular season matches in the next two weeks. 

∎Wednesday: Inter Miami vs. Monterrey in Champions Cup, 8 p.m. ET

∎April 6: Inter Miami vs. Colorado Rapids, 7:30 p.m. ET

∎April 10: Inter Miami at Monterrey in Champions Cup, 10:30 p.m. ET

∎April 13: Inter Miami at Sporting Kansas City at Aarowhead Stadium, 8:30 p.m. ET 

∎April 20: Inter Miami vs. Nashville, 7:30 p.m. ET 

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