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Lionel Messi, Inter Miami set to play much-anticipated preseason opener in El Salvador

InterMiami CF gets ready for the preseason
InterMiami CF gets ready for the preseason 02:36

MIAMI - If you have been itching for the MLS preseason to begin and you are lucky enough to have the world's best soccer player as the captain of your team, then your wait is almost over.

Lionel Messi and his former Barcelona teammates Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Luis Suarez, as well as, the rest of the Inter Miami CF squad are set to begin their seven-game preseason tour with a friendly match against El Salvador's national team on Friday, January 19th.

Proxima parada ✈️ El Salvador

Posted by Inter Miami CF on Thursday, January 18, 2024

But as always, it will be up to team coach Gerardo "Tata" Martino on whether any of his stars see a minute of play.  

"I'd feel frustrated. I, like the majority of people, would pay to see Messi and if he doesn't play, it'll be disappointing," said Salvadoran Luis Lopez, a South Florida resident for 40 years. 

Lopez and fans around the world will just have to wait until the official roster is released before the game. 

Messi suffered a leg injury in Argentina's World Cup qualifying match against Ecuador on September 7. The injury caused him to miss Argentina's match in La Paz, Bolivia on September 12 to the disappointment of thousands of Bolivians who filled the Hernando Siles Stadium to see him. That same injury caused him to miss six games with Inter Miami in September.  

Messi returned to the pitch on October 7 when Inter Miami faced FC Cincinnati, before that, he had been "day to day." Following that match, Martino said Messi had fully recovered.   

On Tuesday, Inter Miami posted a video on social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, that the team is "Fit and ready to take on the preseason." The video showed Messi and other teammates getting physicals.

Friday's game is set to be played at San Salvador's Estadio Cuscatlán and will stream exclusively on and at 8 p.m. ET.

The stadium can hold up to 53,400 spectators. 

Tickets for the much-anticipated match were put on sale at prices ranging from $200 to $475, though prices will probably go much higher through third-party vendors.

Either way, a sellout is expected. 

In all, Inter Miami CF is scheduled to play six other preseason matches. Messi is scheduled to clash against his long-time Spanish League rival, Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo (CR7) when they face in Saudi Arabia on February 1st. 

Inter Miami will also host Argentina's Newell's Old Boys on February 15. Before Messi joined Barcelona, he was in the Rosario-based club youth ranks. Through the years, Messi has said that there is a special place in his heart for his boyhood club.

Here is the rest of their pre-season schedule: 

Jan. 22 (6 pm ET) Inter Miami vs. FC Dallas Cotton Bowl Stadium (Dallas, Texas)
Jan. 29 (1 pm ET)  Inter Miami vs. Al Hilal SFC Kingdom Arena (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)
Feb. 1 (1 pm ET) Inter Miami vs. Al Nassr FC Kingdom Arena (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)
Feb. 4 (time TBA) Inter Miami vs. Hong Kong Team Hong Kong Stadium (Hong Kong)
Feb. 7 (time TBA) Inter Miami vs. Vissel Kobe Japan National Stadium (Tokyo, Japan)
Feb. 15 (time TBA) Inter Miami vs. Newell's Old Boys DRV PNK Stadium (Fort Lauderdale)

Messi won his eighth Ballon d'Or last year in Paris after captaining Argentina's victorious World Cup campaign on December 18, 2022, the biggest title of Inter Miami's captain to date.  

El Salvador has recently hosted international events, such as the recent Miss Universe Pageant, which crowned Miss Nicaragua, Sheynnis Palacios.

The Central American country has recently gone from being one of the world's most dangerous to being one of the safest. 

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