Preview: Inter Miami vs Nashville SC | Concacaf Champions Cup Leg 2

After an entertaining 2-2 draw in the first leg, the 2020 expansion rivals face off one more time in the Round of 16 to determine who advances into the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions Cup. CCC is clearly the priority for Gary Smith and Tata Martino, as they both rotated their squads for their respective MLS matches Sunday.

Inter Miami CF

Last round: Bye
MLS: 1st (East) | 7 points | 2W-1D-1L | +6 GD |
Last match: 2-3 loss vs. CF Montréal

After a great start to the season and a dominating win against their Florida rivals, fixture congestion seems to have caught up with Inter Miami. They fielded a rotated side against CF Montréal on Sunday. Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets and Luiz Suárez all did not start the match, with Messi out of the matchday squad altogether.

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It wasn’t all bad news for the Herons. Defender Jordi Alba was able to play all 90 minutes after missing the Nashville match, scoring a beautiful goal from long range. Also, top prospect midfielder Federico Redondo was able to get another match under his belt after debuting at GEODIS Park last week.

It’s unlikely that Miami will change much about their approach to the game, especially having the home field advantage. They want to keep the ball and circulate it around the team until an opening comes for one of their many star players.

The quality Inter Miami has is undeniable. However, there’s something to be said about their matches against Nashville SC since “the goat” arrived. Miami has yet to beat Nashville in regular time, drawing 1-1, 0-0 and 2-2 respectively, with Messi playing every minute.

Wednesday’s match is going to be different than usual for Miami. In most matches for Messi & Co, they are expected to be the aggressor, and they often are. In this second leg, Nashville are the ones who need to be on the front foot since away goals are the tiebreaker, which presents a new challenge for Miami. They’ll need to absorb the pressure and strike when the opportunity presents itself.

Lastly, it’s important to note that Inter Miami are the favorites in every match they’ll have against MLS sides, which makes the pressure they face unique to Vice City. It would be interesting to see how calm and collected they will be if Nashville can strike early like in the first leg.

Nashville SC

Last round: 7-0 aggregate win vs. Moca FC
MLS: 10th (East) | 3 points | 0W-3D-0L | 0 GD |
Last match: 2-2 vs. LA Galaxy

Nashville had a 2-0 lead in their last two matches, and on both occasions they gave up two goals in the second half for the game to end in a draw. The Boys in Gold seem to have figured out the scoring issue from last season, but through that they’ve found a new problem.

Nashville’s squad to face the Galaxy was heavily rotated, Gary Smith made a staggering 10 changes at the weekend. Even with that, Nashville almost came out with a win.

This is a new era for Nashville when it comes to depth, they have generally been a team unable to cope with injuries/suspensions with their bench. However, the likes of McKinzie Gaines, Dru Yearwood and Elliot Panicco allow Nashville to rotate without massively dropping in quality.

The biggest concern remains the health of the squad. Defender Walker Zimmerman is ruled out for the second leg. He exited the first leg after a collision with Miami’s Diego Gómez that left him in visible pain.

On the other hand, Nashville were able to include their other two DPs in the match on Sunday. Hany Mukhtar seems to have fully returned to the squad playing 82 minutes against Miami and almost 30 minutes against the Galaxy. Sam Surridge was able to get his first MLS minutes against the Galaxy as well after a shoulder injury he sustained in the first game of the season.

Two-legged-series are a bit of an uncharted territory for Nashville, and they’ll need to adapt quickly, especially with the first leg result. Drawing 2-2 at home makes advancing without winning away very unlikely. A 0-0 or 1-1 draw will see Miami advance. A 2-2 draw would send the match to extra time. With CONCACAF holding on to the away goals rule, Nashville will have to go all out in Fort Lauderdale.

One of Nashville’s biggest criticisms of the past few years is their inability to create chances while in possession. This will be their chance to showcase whether or not they have overcome this problem.

Pod Picks

Chris Ivey

Score: Miami 3-0 Nashville
Scorers: Lionel Messi (x2)
Bold Prediction: Nashville is forced to be more aggressive and it leaves gaps in the back

Ben Wright

Score: Miami 1-2 Nashville
Scorers: Jacob Shaffelburg, Hany Mukhtar
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Nashville score in the first 15 minutes and continue to hit Miami on the counter.

Jeff Remlinger

Score: Miami 2-1 Nashville
Scorers: Jacob Shaffelburg
MOTM: Jacob Shaffelburg
Bold Prediction: Miami score from a “penalty”

Valair Shabilla

Score: Miami 2-2 Nashville
Scorers: Hany Mukhtar (x2)
MOTM: Hany Mukhtar
Bold Prediction: Goes to penalties again and Nashville wins

Fan Forecast

Pre-match quotes

Match info

Teams: Nashville SC v. Inter Miami CF
Odds: NSH (+425), MIA (-225) via DraftKings
Date: Wednesday, March 13
Time: 7:15 pm CDT, Chase Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Radio: No radio
Forecast: Mostly cloudy skies. Low 71F. Winds SE at 5 to 10 mph.

Author: Valair Shabillamoved to Nashville as a refugee from Iraq at the age of 14. A fan of soccer from a young age, he used soccer to connect with a larger community in Nashville and adapt to life abroad. He's covered Nashville SC since 2019, co-hosting Pharmaceutical Soccer, and analyzing soccer from an audio/video perspective.

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