Messi won’t need ‘extra’ motivation for 2nd leg with Monterrey

MONTERREY, Mexico — Inter Miami CF head coach Gerardo Martino said Lionel Messi doesn’t need any “extra or special situation” to motivate him for the second leg of the Concacaf Champions Cup quarterfinal match with Monterrey on Wednesday.

Messi and Miami come into the second leg trailing 2-1 on aggregate after last Wednesday’s match in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Although Messi was held out of that game due to injury, he was involved in an incident post-match in which he approached the Monterrey locker room, an ESPN source said.

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The Argentina World Cup winner trained in full with his teammates on Tuesday and will be available for the decisive second leg.

When asked if the incident following the first game would provide Messi with any added incentive on Wednesday, Martino said a player of his caliber doesn’t need anything extra to get him up for the game.

“When it comes to someone like him and the way he competes the way he has on a professional level since being 16, 17 years old, he doesn’t need any extra or special situation,” Martino said. “He absolutely competes like this because he feels that way and the day he doesn’t feel that way he will leave football.

“In the situation where he finds himself, or the league he plays in, in a friendly or decisive match, I don’t think he will confront it any other way than competitively to his limit of possibilities. That’s what we expect from the whole team, not just him.”

The manager then continued to downplay the confrontation between both teams, emphasizing there are better things to talk about.

The former Atlanta United coach said: “Tomorrow’s game is so great and generates [excitement], from our side at least, so it’s a shame to have to talk about things that aren’t happening because of football. There’s so much to talk about in regards to the game tomorrow, the preview and the post-match, so getting held up by things that aren’t about football is not worth it and inopportune.”

Messi is expected to see minutes tomorrow, after missing the first leg of the series. He came on as a substitute against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday, but had last played before that on March 13, because of a thigh injury.

“Well, he’s good. He felt good after playing 45 minutes in the MLS match against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday,” Martino said. “We still have today’s training, so we shall see. But the injury continues to be left behind, which is the most important part.”