It’s an all-MLS affair in the Leagues Cup final, as Lionel Messi’s Miami take on Hany Mukhtar’s Music for the grand prize and to decide which part of the United States will be keeping hold of that trophy for the upcoming year - Florida or Tennessee.
Jack Collins here from The Game Day to look at the final game in a thrilling Leagues Cup tournament from start to finish.
Nashville SC vs Inter Miami Odds
Nashville SC vs Inter Miami betting lines are current as of Wednesday, Aug. 16, at 7 p.m. ET at bet365 Sportsbook.
- Three-Way Moneyline: Nashville (+275) • Tie (+280) • Miami (-110)
- Total Goals: Over 2.5 (-175) • Under 2.5 (+135)
- Both Teams To Score: Yes (-200) • No (+150)
Nashville SC vs Inter Miami Match Prediction
Nashville SC 1:2 Inter Miami
You wouldn’t know it from looking at what’s happened in Miami since Messi arrived, but football fairytales don’t always come true. Inter Miami were a team rooted in the basement of MLS’ standings with 14 losses in 22 games,.and have since turned into world beaters with seemingly the mere aura of him being part of this team.
Miami have swept all comers from the moment that Messi’s 90th-minute free-kick gave them their Matchday 1 win over Cruz Azul and haven’t looked back.
Miami dispatched Tata Martino and Josef Martinez’s former side, Atlanta United, 4-0, putting early MLS MVP front-runner Thiago Almada in a creative chokehold in their other group game.
They scored three against Orlando, four against Dallas, four against Charlotte, and in their semi-final, hit that number again against a solid Philadelphia Union side that sits third in the East in MLS standings at the break.
This is not a revelation; it’s a revolution. Suddenly, every Inter Miami player looks brimming with verve and confidence. Messi leads the headlines with nine goals in 6 games, but Robert Taylor has four, and Josef Martinez has 3.
Finnish journeyman Taylor in particular looks inspired to play next to the Atomic Flea of Rosario. He’s already surpassed his MLS goal and assist total for the season in this six-game tournament.
Meanwhile, Martinez, who had floundered since his move from Atlanta, looks like the force who won the MVP and Golden Boot awards in 2018 as he fired the Five Stripes to MLS Cup glory.
In midfield, Busquets looks like he’s playing in slow motion, with the time to pick his passes and read the game.
Down the flanks, both Jordi Alba and DeAndre Yedlin are playing like they’ve rewound the clock ten years. The visible change in zest that has descended on everyone in heron pink is awe-inspiring.
But fairytales can crumble to dust quickly if the ending takes a plot twist, and Nashville have taken quickly to their role as the ‘underdog’ in this tournament, given that it’s a tag rarely applied in domestic competition.
They qualified second from the Central 4 group after a chastening loss to Toluca, but since that moment, they have relished knocking out sides who were predicted to beat them.
First, it was FC Cincinnati, who had thumped them in the final game of the MLS regular season before the Leagues Cup began, and who were dispatched on penalties.
Then Mexican giants Club América were put to the sword similarly.
A routine victory against 10-man Minnesota followed, where Nashville could flex their attacking muscle before they again triumphed against the odds in the semi-final against the last Mexican hope, the mighty Monterrey.
Now it is Miami who come to GEODIS Park, with all the stardust and intrigue that the club suddenly carry. But only three sides have come to Tennessee all year and come away with a win - Cincinnati, Philadelphia, and Toluca.
Nashville boasts the tournament’s top assist provider in the reigning MLS MVP Mukhtar, as well as a rock-solid defensive pairing in Lukas MacNaughton and Walker Zimmerman.
They have a veteran MLS destroyer in the ageless Dax McCarty and firepower up top in new signing Sam Surridge and ever-reliable Fafà Picault.
And yet, every time Messi has been asked a question so far in his Miami career, he has answered it in the way he knows best - by looking unplayable on the pitch. He threw off the shackles to lift the World Cup trophy in December and has looked like he’s been floating ever since.
It’s clearly infectious, and you’d be a bolder man than me to predict he doesn’t open his Miami silverware account here - but this might well be more tense than everyone’s predicting.
Nashville SC vs Inter Miami Best Bet
Total Goals: Over 2.5 (-175) • bet365 Sportsbook
Both Teams to Score looked like a similarly good bet, but the odds are stronger for Over 2.5 Goals, so it makes sense to back this one instead.
This tournament has been a goal-fest from a Miami standpoint, but Nashville can make magic happen too.
Lionel Messi: First Goalscorer (+260) • bet365 Sportsbook
This has fundamentally been Messi’s tournament from the moment he first stepped onto the pitch in that Group Stage game against Cruz Azul, and he looks like he can score from anywhere right now.
Back the miniature magician to get Miami up and running in this one.
Hany Mukhtar: Anytime Goalscorer (+125) • bet365 Sportsbook
Messi isn’t the only player on this pitch capable of the sublime. Mukhtar has been the best player in MLS for nearly two years, and he will want to remind everyone of his quality in a game that the world will be watching.