After a thrilling 2-1 win over Cruz Azul to open League Cup play, Inter Miami look set to cement their place in the knockout stage when they host Atlanta United on Wednesday.
Lionel Messi gave the Inter Miami faithful a storybook debut when he scored the stoppage time winner on Friday night, and they will hope he can deliver again to secure their spot atop their group.
Atlanta United enters the game with 10 days off, with star defender Miles Robinson returning to the squad and ready to go. The time off also allowed their top striker to return from injury, and they will try to pick up three important points in their first game of the tournament.
Will Messi deliver another piece of magic, or can Atlanta United find a way to slow him down and take the win? We break down the action in our Inter Miami vs Atlanta United picks and predictions for Tuesday, July 25.
Inter Miami vs Atlanta United best odds
|Over 2.5 (-150)||Total||Less than 2.5 (-115)|
Odds courtesy of bet365 on July 24, 2023.
Inter Miami vs Atlanta United picks and predictions
You can forgive people for thinking Messi’s debut was a script, but if it was, then the writers deserve a bonus. Messi stepped up for a 40-minute performance, and boy did he. Along with former Barcelona teammate Sergio Busquets, fans in Miami were treated to a show in which Cruz Azul’s defense threw multiple bodies to stop the superstar.
The plot twist was that instead of building on their lead, Inter Miami squandered it, allowing Cruz Azul to level the game with Messi on the pitch. It didn’t matter, that just gave him the chance to bury the winning free-kick deep into stoppage time, stamping his name in Inter Miami lore.
But with their debut, two things stood out. First of all, the chemistry between Busquets and Messi changes the game. The deep midfielder knew where his team-mate would be and where he wanted the ball, and his blind pass on the first touch through the Cruz Azul back-line almost set Messi on his way to an earlier goal – and was a moment of class rarely seen in MLS.
Second, Josef Martinez will benefit greatly from having Messi on the pitch. When they were out together, the defense was tied to Messi and often lost sight of Martinez. This led to multiple scoring opportunities for him, and this is likely an area punters can exploit in the future.
The one place Messi and Busquets can’t help Inter Miami is on the defensive side. Cruz Azul was unlucky not to score several goals in the first half, wasting countless chances and failing to convert one. If they give Giorgos Giakoumakis one of those chances, Atlanta United are unlikely to go scoreless at half time. Their star player seems to be ready after suffering a hamstring injury a few weeks ago.
All signs point to Messi coming off the bench again, but Cruz Azul showed that his presence doesn’t mean it will be a one-way street. Atlanta United are rarely left out and Inter Miami’s defense rarely keeps a clean sheet. On the other hand, Atlanta United have kept just three clean sheets in all competitions this season, and not even Robinson is good enough to single-handedly stop Messi.
As long as Messi is around, Inter Miami will see over-bets in quite a few markets. Therefore, here we go with a parlay and pair both teams to score with a total of more than 2.5 goals. It pays -110 on almost every book, and like Friday night, it should come through once Messi works his magic.
My best guess: Over 2.5 goals and both teams to score – Yes (-110 at bet365)
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Internal analysis of Inter Miami vs Atlanta United
Inter Miami is favored to win the game on Tuesday, with a prize of up to +115. The line continues to move downwards as the match approaches, with the Atlanta moneyline offering prizes from +180 to +200 and the draw up to +275. Note that while the game could end in a draw, it would go to a penalty shootout to determine who gets two points (instead of the typical three), but it would not affect the results of the three-way line.
Inter Miami beat Cruz Azul on Messi’s late heroics, but without him on the pitch they looked on the lesser side for a long time. That makes sense considering they haven’t won any of their previous six matches and only have two wins in their past 11.
Atlanta United has three wins in their last 11 games, along with three losses, five draws. But away from home they have just two wins in 12 games and five losses. They have lost each of their last two games by an exact scoreline of 2-1, and have only scored three goals in their last three games.
The past five meetings between these teams have all been won by the home side, four of which have been decided by just one goal. I think this game follows a similar arc to Inter Miami’s last game where things were tight before the hosts gave it back late. That said, I’d rather wait and get a better price for Inter Miami during the game, especially if they fall behind.
Inter Miami vs Atlanta United Over/Under Analysis
Inter Miami’s poor defence, along with the threat Messi presents, have led the crowd to push the Over 2.5 into heavily undermined territory. You’re going to pay better than -140 to get the Over here, while the Under gives you plus chances.
Each of Inter Miami’s last four games is over, as are six of the last seven. They have not kept a clean sheet against a first division side in 23 games and were lucky to hold Cruz Azul to one goal on Friday.
In Atlanta United’s last seven games, the Over came through five times, and away from home, the Over is 8-4 this season. They have kept clean sheets just three times and allowed multiple goals to be scored against them on seven occasions.
Again, I’d take a live track here and avoid the juice. It’s not worth paying the higher price because public money is pouring in, especially from casual players, as Messi is unlikely to start. If he does start, skip the standard total and go to the alternate 3.0 goals rule instead, and play the way there for better value.
Inter Miami vs Atlanta United game info
|Place:||DRV PNK Stadium, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida|
|Date:||Tuesday, July 25, 2023|
|Time:||19:30 Dutch time|
Inter Miami vs Atlanta United major injuries
International: Corentin Jean F (Out), Ian Fray D (Out), Franco Negri D (Out).
Atlanta United: Giorgos Giakoumakis F (probably).
Inter Miami vs Atlanta United again
The heat in Miami on Tuesday night will be brutal. The temperatures at kickoff will feel like they’re in the mid-90s, and it won’t cool down much as the game progresses. The wind will be very light and there is a slight chance of rain, as is the case in Florida in the summer.