- LAFC host Inter Miami in MLS
- Martino confirms Messi will play
- Coach will not rest his superstar
WHAT HAPPENED? Martino handed Messi a rest against the New York Red Bulls a week ago but restored the Argentina international to his starting XI against Nashville SC last time out. Messi fired a rare blank in a goalless draw for the Herons but looks unlikely to be on the bench again at LAFC, with Martino confirming ahead of the game that the summer signing will feature in what is a key game for both sides.
WHAT THEY SAID: "I don't imagine in this very important match with the last champion that it is a match that Messi needs to rest up," he told reporters. "The one we had to stop at was the Red Bulls team, he played 30 minutes, that's how we did it this week and now tomorrow he's going to play."
AND WHAT'S MORE: Martino also made it clear that his side are facing a very tough test against LAFC, who lie second in the Western Conference table.
"In my opinion, LAFC is one of the best teams in the league, it is the last champion," he added. "Carlos [Vela] is a decisive player within the team structure and [Denis] Bouanga is also decisive, Illie is also decisive, they have a very solid central duo, and there is also a team that is supporting all the individualities, for us it will be a good measure and tomorrow's game will be a great challenge."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Messi and Miami were held to a goalless draw by Nashville SC last time out but can't afford to drop more points if they are to make the play-offs. The Herons have improved since Messi's arrival and are on a 10-game unbeaten run but remain 10 points off a play-off spot.
IN THREE PHOTOS:Getty@laaficionGetty
WHAT NEXT MESSI? Sunday's match will be Messi's last match for Inter Miami before he links up with the Argentina team for international duty. Messi will miss some key games for Martino's side as he takes on Ecuador and Bolivia in qualifying for World Cup 2026.