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Will Lionel Messi play? Previewing the Concacaf Champions Cup quarterfinals

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With March’s worldwide break behind us and April flowers about to spout, Concacaf’s Champions Cup resumes this week because the quarterfinals of the area’s prime membership competitors kicks off with a doubleheader on Tuesday (protection begins at 7 p.m. ET on FS1 and the FOX Sports activities app).

The 4 residence and residential, total-goals-win collection characteristic three scrumptious matchups between North America’s two finest home leagues, MLS and Liga MX, with Lionel Messi’s Inter Miami towards Monterrey the marquee pairing.

Here is a fast have a look at how these cross-border rivalries might play out this month.

Inter Miami-Monterrey 

Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on FS1 and the FOX Sports activities app

Will Messi play? That is the large query heading into Wednesday’s collection opener in Ft. Lauderdale. The GOAT has been nursing a hamstring harm that has restricted him to simply three of Miami’s seven MLS video games in 2024 and in addition dominated him out of a pair of stateside Copa América tuneups with Argentina’s nationwide crew over the past 10 days.

However Miami coach Tara Martino has made it clear that the Champions Cup trophy is the highest precedence for Herons, who certified for this 12 months’s tourney by successful the inaugural Leagues Cup — an occasion during which each MLS and Liga MX crew participates — final summer season.

“We’re doing all we are able to to get him prepared for subsequent Wednesday,” Javier Morales, Martino’s prime assistant, stated final week. “That’s what we’re working for.”

So count on Messi to be again clad in scorching pink towards the stacked Rayados, who’ve gained 5 Concacaf titles total and two since 2019.  Whereas Miami will be the bookies’ favourite to advance, these odds will certainly change for the more severe if Messi & Co. cannot take not less than a one-goal lead again to Mexico for the essential second leg at Estadio BBVA on April 10.

Columbus Crew-Tigres UANL 

Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET on FS1 and the FOX Sports activities app

The defending MLS Cup champs have fallen again to earth barely after beginning the brand new season with three wins and a tie from their first 4 video games, as Wilfried Nancy’s facet misplaced in Charlotte on March 23 earlier than squandering a late lead and settling for some extent in final Saturday’s 2-2 attract Nashville.

Regardless of. The Crew are nonetheless an elite MLS crew and, thanks largely to star Colombian striker Cucho Hernandez, they nonetheless have maybe the very best likelihood of any American membership of surviving this spherical and progressing to the semifinals over a Tigers squad that boasts its personal confirmed aim machine in veteran French ahead André-Pierre Gignac however can be suspect defensively.

As would be the case for all three MLS reps, successful the primary leg at residence is vital. Tigres held Orlando Metropolis scoreless in Florida to open the spherical of 16 earlier than working away with a 4-2 victory within the decisive second leg.

New England Revolution-Membership América 

Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on FS1 and the FOX Sports activities app

For all their early struggles in MLS, New England has been excellent within the Champions Cup up to now below new head coach Caleb Porter. The Revs will nonetheless be hard-pressed to outlive this collection towards Mexico’s richest and hottest membership.

Membership América’s roster is as stacked as any crew outdoors of Europe. They’ve championship pedigree, having gained the Concacaf crown a seven instances — greater than some other crew. They usually’ll have a colossal residence area benefit within the all-important again half of the collection, which is able to conclude on the iconic, cavernous, 86,000-seat Estadio Azteca in Mexico Metropolis.

Which means the best-case state of affairs for Porter’s membership might be to eke out a slender first-leg win in Foxborough and hold Las Águilas off the scoreboard, then steal an early (and probably pivotal) aim on the street. Bear in mind: whereas the UEFA Champions League and different worldwide tournaments have performed away with the away objectives rule, the controversial tiebreaker remains to be alive and effectively in Concacaf’s prime membership competitors.

Doug McIntyre is a soccer author for FOX Sports activities. Earlier than becoming a member of FOX Sports activities in 2021, he was a workers author with ESPN and Yahoo Sports activities and he has coated United States males’s and girls’s nationwide groups at a number of FIFA World Cups. Comply with him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

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