FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida. – International football superstar Lionel Messi is set to make his Inter Miami debut on Friday.
Messi’s Major League Soccer and team debut will come against Cruz Azul in the first leg of the League Cup at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale.
About 21,000 tickets were sold for the newly expanded stadium, according to team officials, although thousands were still available for resale on secondary markets Friday morning.
Messi was introduced to the fans on Sunday and on Tuesday he trained for the first time with the club.
The timing of Messi’s arrival comes at a unique time of the season for Inter Miami and MLS.
The league is taking a month-long break from regular season play to compete in the Intercontinental League Cup, a 47-team World Cup-style tournament that features all clubs from MLS and Mexico’s Liga MX.
Both teams are approaching Friday’s game with little success this season. Inter Miami has the fewest points in the MLS standings and Cruz Azul is the only team in the Mexican league that has yet to score points in the standings in the first three matches of the season.
According to StubHub. the cheapest ticket is $176, while front-row tickets in midfield are $8,300 as of Friday morning.
Inter Miami head coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino said he would decide when and when Messi would enter the game. The team is still working on their new dynamic, but Cruz Azul is on the lookout.
“We know how smart he is and with one game he can close the game,” Cruz Azula centre-back Carlos Salcedo said.
A big surprise was waiting for Javier Fernandez.
Fernandez, caretaker and football coach at Twin Lakes Elementary School, got two free tickets to play tonight.
“My family is honored to accept this invitation to see the champion of champions,” Fernandez told Local 10 News on Friday.
The match is expected to start at 20:00.
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