Messi, Inter Miami knocked out of CONCACAF Champions Cup

It had the potential to be Lionel Messi’s biggest match with Inter Miami. Instead, it turned into their worst match together.

Messi and Inter Miami barely had an answer – even after the soap opera of drama they found themselves in with LIGA MX powerhouse Monterrey during this Concacaf Champions Cup quarterfinal.

The first leg was about the feisty locker room complaint. The second leg saw Monterrey destroy Messi and Inter Miami in Mexico.

Monterrey scored three goals, including two early in the second half, to win 3-1 at BBVA Stadium in Guadalupe, Mexico, on Wednesday night, ending Inter Miami’s hope to win a second championship in the Messi era.

Monterrey advances to the semifinals of the Champions Cup, and will face the reigning MLS Cup champion Columbus Crew, which beat Tigres UANL in comeback fashion Tuesday. The Crew is the only MLS team remaining in the tournament.

‘Today’s defeat takes away our dream of being able to move forward and replicate what Columbus did yesterday in Monterrey,’ Inter Miami coach Tata Martino said. ‘In this instance, the team with the best squad in Mexican soccer [won].’

Inter Miami vs Monterrey highlights

So, what’s next for Messi and Inter Miami after the Champions Cup loss?

Messi’s focus will be set on gearing up for Copa America 2024 this summer. The Argentine star will captain the reigning World Cup and Copa America champions when the tournament begins in June.

And Inter Miami’s focus? Make sure Messi, 36, is fit and healthy, in prime shape and not overworked, so he can shine with Argentina, perhaps for the final time in a major international tournament.

Messi will likely join Argentina for two warmup matches before Copa America on June 9 in Chicago, and June 14 in Landover, Maryland.

Argentina begins Copa America group play against Canada on June 20 in Atlanta, then plays Chile on June 25 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, before taking on Peru on June 29 in Miami.

Inter Miami has 10 matches remaining until Messi’s expected departure for Copa America.

How did Monterrey beat Inter Miami 3-1 in Champions Cup second leg?

Messi left fans with a glimpse of his greatness, assisting on a header goal by Diego Gomez off a free kick. But the score came in the 85th minute of the match, long after the quarterfinal was decided.

Inter Miami fell behind 1-0 early after goalie Drake Callender’s lazy clearance found former MLS standout Brandon Vazquez, who quickly found the back of the net for Monterrey in the 31st minute.

Germán Berterame scored in the 58th minute and Jesús Gallardo scored on a header goal in the 64th minute to seal the match, and the quarterfinal, early in the second half.

“It’s disappointing to lose here and go out of the competition,” Inter Miami’s Julian Gressel said after the game. “We know Monterrey was a good team and a tough opponent. They played really well, and we made some mistakes that cost us.”

Added Martino: ‘I believe what took us out of the game was the second goal 15 minutes into the second half. At that time, we were eliminated.’

Why was Champions Cup loss so disappointing for Inter Miami?

It was a disappointing outing by Inter Miami, which caused a stir by confronting Monterrey in the locker room area after the first leg of their quarterfinal, a 2-1 loss, last Wednesday.

After the first match, Monterrey assistant coach Nico Sánchez apologized after he said Messi “wanted to fight me” and threatened to hit him in audio leaked by FOX Sports Mexico. “The dwarf was possessed,” Sánchez said of Messi. “He had the face of the devil.”

Messi and Inter Miami were upset about the 6-3 yellow card differential, and Monterrey coach Fernando Ortiz’s pregame comments that referees and outside factors tilt decisions in Messi’s favor. Inter Miami was fined an undisclosed amount “for lack of security in their stadium,” announced by Concacaf before the second leg.

‘I said it and I say it again, for me, he is the best player in the history of the sport,’ Ortiz said of Messi after the game. ‘I still maintain and I also started saying the things I said, that I never wanted to offend anyone and disrespect anyone, I simply gave my opinion regarding what I still think.’

Ortiz said he and Martino did not shake hands following the match, while Martino declined to comment on their lack of interaction.

“No, that greeting was not given, and if it was given I do not know how I would react,’ Ortiz said of Martino. ‘On my part, he will have my respect for life.”

Despite Messi’s supposed anger, he was unable to muster a fiery or dominant performance to save Inter Miami’s Champions Cup hopes.

It was Inter Miami’s chance to win a second championship since Messi led the club to the Leagues Cup title shortly after his MLS arrival last summer.

What was the Inter Miami vs. Monterrey score?

Monterrey won 3-1, 5-2 on aggregate.

Diego Gomez header goal: Monterrey 3, Inter Miami 1

Inter Miami has found the back of the net in the 85th minute, with Diego Gomez scoring a header with an assist by Lionel Messi on a free kick.

Inter Miami trails 3-1, and 5-2 in aggregate score.

Jordi Alba ejected in 78th minute: Monterrey 3, Inter Miami 0

Inter Miami’s Jordi Alba received his second yellow card, four minutes after his first, and was shown a red card. He’s been ejected in the 78th minute of this match. Inter Miami will finish with just 10 players against Monterrey.

It’s also unclear why Messi is still on the pitch. Inter Miami has not made any substitutions yet during the second half of this match.

Jesús Gallardo goal: Monterrey 3, Inter Miami 0

It’s a nightmare in Monterrey for Lionel Messi and Inter Miami.

Jesús Gallardo scored on a header goal in the 64th minute, and Monterrey takes a 3-0 lead in the match and 5-1 lead in aggregate score.

Inter Miami has 25 more minutes of this match to salvage anything they can.

Germán Berterame goal: Monterrey 2, Inter Miami 0 (4-1)

This one might be over: Monterrey’s Germán Berterame scored in the 58th minute and Inter Miami trails 4-1 on aggregate score.

Jesús Gallardo shot saved by Drake Callender: Monterrey 1, Inter Miami 0

Monterrey’s Jesús Gallardo had a nifty move on the left side of the net, but his shot was caught by Inter Miami goalie Drake Callender for his fifth save of the night.

Messi’s shot was blocked: Monterrey 1, Inter Miami 0

Messi took a shot with his left boot, but it was deflected by Monterrey’s Víctor Guzmán in the 51st minute.

Sergio Canales misses free kick: Monterrey 1, Inter Miami 0

The second half is underway, and Monterrey already had a chance to score.

Monterrey was awarded a free kick, and the kick by Sergio Canales wound up in the hands of Inter Miami goalie Drake Callender.

Inter Miami vs. Monterrey halftime report

The first half is over, just when things began to get spicy between both teams.

Inter Miami trails 1-0 in the match, and 3-1 on aggregate score after a major mistake by Inter Miami’s Drake Callender. A poor clearance by the goalie led to a score by Monterrey’s Brandon Vazquez, a former MLS player, in the 31st minute.

Messi has two shots toward the net, one above it, and another to the right of it. He hasn’t been on target in his first start since March 13, and second game back from a right hamstring injury.

Inter Miami’s Luis Suárez is his usual self as well, testy and divisive. He nearly scored a goal, but was offsides. He also got into a tussle with an opposing player.

Inter Miami has not been credited with a shot on goal in the first half of the match.

Luis Suárez offsides on potential goal: Monterrey 1, Inter Miami 0

Luis Suárez had a breakaway goal after a pass ahead from Messi. But he ran ahead of the pack too early. The goal was negated due to an offsides call.

Messi misses swinging left kick just before halftime: Monterrey 1, Inter Miami 0

Lionel Messi had his second shot of the game, and nearly found the back of the net. Messi’s swinging leg kick was close, but no cigar.

Luis Suárez appears to injure Monterrey player’s arm: Monterrey 1, Inter Miami 0

There was no penalty or review, but replays showed Inter Miami’s Luis Suárez attempted to bend a Monterrey player’s arm during a mixup late in the first half.

Drake Callender saves Maximiliano Meza’s shot: Monterrey 1, Inter Miami 0

Inter Miami was on the defense again, but goalie Drake Callender deflected Maximiliano Meza’s shot from the right side, after a cross in the 37th minute.

Brandon Vazquez goal: Monterrey 1, Inter Miami 0

Messi could only clap his hands in encouragement after such a disappointment. Inter Miami goalie Drake Callender tried to clear the ball, and kicked it right to Monterrey’s Brandon Vazquez, who quickly found the back of the net in the 31st minute..

Messi misses his first shot in 25′: Inter Miami 0, Monterrey 0

Inter Miami found itself with a rare shot in the first 25 minutes, but Messi’s left boot was over the Monterrey net.

Inter Miami has not had any opportunities against this Monterrey defense, with as many as eight players crowding the area against Messi and his teammates.

Messi and Luis Suarez both had an opportunity from Julian Gressel, but were unable to convert.

Drake Callender saves Germán Berterame shot: Inter Miami 0, Monterrey 0

Inter Miami’s goalie Drake Callender with another nice save early, this time deflecting a shot by Monterrey’s Germán Berterame in the 15th minute.

Drake Callender blocks header after free kick: Inter Miami 0, Monterrey 0

Monterrey’s Brandon Vazquez used his head to take a shot on goal, and Inter Miami goalie Drake Callender was alert to secure the save. The sequence followed a free kick by Monterrey.

Messi gets booed on first touch, while grounds crew already at work in opening minutes

Messi has been booed twice during his first touches of the Inter Miami vs. Monterrey match.

The pitch at Monterrey’s BBVA Stadium also appears like it’s not in the best condition, with a grounds crew worker fixing a patch in the first five minutes.

How tough is Inter Miami’s task vs. Monterrey?

Monterrey has not allowed another club to score multiple goals and win at their home stadium in Concacaf play since August 2016, the FS1 broadcasters said during the opening minutes.

Lionel Messi gets booed by Monterrey fans when announced to crowd before game

How about this reaction for Messi when he was announced to fans before the game at Monterrey?

Why is this Messi’s biggest Inter Miami game? Here’s a reminder

Check out this recap from FOX Sports and read more about Monterrey assistant coach Nico Sánchez’s comments about Messi and Inter Miami coach Tata Martino. Messi “had the face of the devil” and “wanted to fight me,” Sánchez said.

If Messi was supposedly so enraged, just imagine what he’s going to do on the pitch against Monterrey. 

Messi, Inter Miami warmup before Monterrey game with mixed reaction from fans

‘Between boos and applause for Messi,’ reads one tweet of Inter Miami’s pregame warmups before tonight’s match.

While the fans want to see the world’s greatest, many Monterrey fans will still cheer for their squad.

David Beckham in attendance for Inter Miami vs. Monterrey

Becks is in the building: Inter Miami co-owner David Beckham made the trip to Mexico for tonight’s match.

Lionel Messi in Inter Miami starting lineup vs. Monterrey

Messi is in Inter Miami’s starting lineup for tonight’s match, the club just announced an hour before kickoff.

Here’s the Inter Miami lineup:

Analyzing Inter Miami’s lineup before Monterrey match

It’s no surprise Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez – two of the greatest goal scorers in the sport – are leading the charge offensively for Inter Miami. It also appears they’ll have to play the distance with Robert Taylor and Leo Campana not available to play due to injury.

Sergio Busquets, one of the game’s best midfielders is manning the middle, with youngster Diego Gomez and MLS veteran Julian Gressel alongside in the midfield.

Inter Miami appears it will play with a defensive line of five players: Another Barcelona star Jordi Alba assumes the left back role and is the veteran among the group, with newcomer Nico Freire manning the middle.

Inter Miami youngsters Noah Allen (19), Tomás Avilés (19) and Marcelo Weigandt (24) fill out the defense in front of U.S. National Team goalie Drake Callender.

Look out for Benjamin Cremaschi as a possible lineup entry into the game, which could be his first game this season after sports hernia surgery. Cremaschi is a rising prospect, and thrived playing with Messi during Leagues Cup last summer.

Lionel Messi arrives for Inter Miami game tonight vs. Monterrey in Champions Cup

Check out this video of Messi’s arrival to Estadio BBVA before tonight’s Inter Miami game vs. Monterrey.

Monterrey coach says ‘Let Messi worry about us’

Monterrey coach Fernando Ortiz praised Messi during his prematch press conference Tuesday, but emphasized his desire to defeat the 2022 World Cup champion.

“We are Monterrey, we are at home with our people. Let Messi worry about us,” Ortiz said. “I think it is somewhat fortunate to be on a court with the best player in the world, to enjoy it. But at the same time we will want to beat him.”

Messi receives hero’s welcome by fans in Mexico

Messi received a hero’s welcome in Mexico by fans, who serenaded him with greetings outside Inter Miami’s team hotel on Tuesday. The reception was a reminder Messi is still the greatest show in soccer, and the recent war of words between both clubs might not incite such a ruckus crowd for the match at Monterrey’s BBVA Stadium, which is one of the host stadiums for the 2026 World Cup.

What does Inter Miami need to advance past Monterrey in Champions Cup?

Concacaf fines Inter Miami before second Monterrey game

Concacaf’s disciplinary committee has fined Inter Miami an undisclosed amount “for lack of security in their stadium,” following for their locker room confrontation against Monterrey during their match last Wednesday.

Inter Miami was also warned “more severe sanctions could be taken should incidents occur during their future matches in Concacaf club competitions.”

The announcement comes about 90 minutes before both teams meet in their second leg matchup tonight.

Will Messi start vs. Monterrey?

Martino did not say whether Messi, who returned from his right hamstring injury last Saturday, would start against Monterrey. But he did say Messi’s injury is fully healthy again.

“Well, he’s fine, he felt good after having played 45 minutes in the league last Saturday,’ Martino said. ‘We still have today’s training, so well, after that we’ll see, but apparently the injury is being left behind, that’s the most important thing.”

Inter Miami vs. Monterrey prediction

Inter Miami 4, Monterrey 2: Monterrey will score early, and Inter Miami’s comeback will begin. Messi’s return only bodes well for one team, and he’ll more than inspired from the fallout after the first match. Messi scores two goals, and Luis Suarez will score two of his own to lead Inter Miami to a thrilling win at Monterrey. — Safid Deen, Lionel Messi reporter

Inter Miami vs. Monterrey odds

Monterrey enters as a +125 favorite, while Inter Miami has +175 odds to win, and a tie has +275 odds. The over/under is set at 3.5 goals, per BETMGM.

Who will Inter Miami-Monterrey winner face in Concacaf Champions Cup semifinal?

The winner of Wednesday night’s quarterfinal second leg between Inter Miami and Monterrey will play the Columbus Crew in the Concacaf Champions Cup semifinals.

In Tuesday’s quarterfinal second leg, the Columbus Crew made history by becoming the first MLS team to defeat a Liga MX team after not winning the home leg of the Champions Cup. The Crew did so by prevailing in a penalty shootout.

Why is this Messi’s biggest Inter Miami game?

Following Inter Miami’s 2-1 loss without Messi to Monterrey last Wednesday:

∎ Both teams confronted each other in the locker room area after the match, because of Ortiz’s comments before the game. Martino and Inter Miami have declined to comment on the situation.

∎ Monterrey assistant coach Nico Sánchez apologized after he said Messi “wanted to fight me” and threatened to hit him in audio leaked by FOX Sports Mexico. “The dwarf was possessed,” Sánchez said of Messi. “He had the face of the devil.”

∎ Messi returned to score a goal in Inter Miami’s 2-2 draw against the Colorado Rapids last Saturday.

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