Lionel Messi will make his debut for an MLS team this week. His Inter Miami squad plays its first Leagues Cup match against Mexico’s Cruz Azul at DRV PNK Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on Friday night. Messi, widely regarded as the world’s biggest soccer star and one of the best to ever play the game, has already impacted betting odds for Inter Miami and its hopes in the MLS season.
Betting odds at top online sportsbooks suggest he could do the same for the team in the Leagues Cup tournament, which pits MLS teams against those from Mexico’s Liga MX. We’ll take a closer look at the betting odds for Messi and Inter Miami below, as well as other Leagues Cup odds.
Betting odds on Lionel Messi debut with Inter Miami
Coming off a World Cup victory for Argentina in 2022, Messi signed with Inter Miami in June, making him the biggest star to join an MLS team. The Leagues Cup tournament marks his first appearance in a match for his new club, and there are several ways to bet on both Messi’s individual performance as well as the team’s performance in this competition.
Inter Miami’s first match with Messi on the roster will be against Cruz Azul of Liga MX. Cruz Azul won this tournament in 2019, but it is winless in three matches so far this Liga MX season. Odds below are from BetMGM Sportsbook. If you see a bet you like, you can click it to sign up with bonus code PLAY1000 and place that wager.
Lionel Messi goalscorer odds vs. Cruz Azul
|To score a goal
|To score the first goal of the match
|To score the last goal of the match
|To score two or more goals
|To score three or more goals
Inter Miami odds vs. Cruz Azul
Matches in the Leagues Cup cannot end in ties, but for sportsbook purposes, any match that is tied at the end of regulation counts as a draw bet, even if matches are then decided by penalty kicks. “BTTS” is short for both teams to score.
|Goals in Both Halves
|July 21, 7 p.m. ET
vs. Cruz Azul
at DRV PNK Stadium
|Over 2.5: -125
Under 2.5: -115
Leagues Cup futures odds
The Leagues Cup final will be on Saturday, Aug. 19. Messi’s club, Inter Miami, is among the favorites to win, despite currently sitting in last place in the MLS standings. Full futures odds to win the 2023 Leagues Cup are below.
|Los Angeles FC
|Club America Mexico
What is the Leagues Cup?
The Leagues Cup is a relatively new CONCACAF-sanctioned tournament among teams from MLS in North America and Liga MX in Mexico. Every team in both leagues participates in the tournament, which begins with group play before moving on to the knockout stage.
There are 15 groups of three teams, and the top two teams from each group advance to the next stage. The reigning champions of both leagues — Los Angeles FC of MLS and the UANL Tigres of Liga MX — have received a bye through the group stage and will join the competition in the knockout round.
This is the first year that the Leagues Cup is sanctioned by CONCACAF, and also the first year that it includes all teams from both leagues. The winner of the tournament automatically qualifies for the Round of 16 in the CONCACAF Champions League. The second- and third-place finishers automatically qualify for the opening round of the CCL.
How does the Leagues Cup work?
MLS and Liga MX teams take a month-long break from the regular seasons to compete in this World Cup-style tournament that runs from July 21 to Aug. 19. After round-robin group play, the top two teams from each group move on to the first knockout round of the tournament. Even in group play, there are no draws in Leagues Cup matches.
If teams are tied at the end of regulation, the match moves immediately to a penalty shootout. The winner of the shootout receives two points, while the loser receives one.
The knockout round is single elimination, and the first phase includes 32 teams. From there, it advances to a round of 16, followed by quarterfinal and then semifinal rounds, leading up to the Leagues Cup final on Saturday, Aug. 19.
Leagues Cup history
The Leagues Cup is still a fairly new tournament, and the 2023 edition is the first to be sanctioned by CONCACAF and include all teams from both leagues. The first Leagues Cup took place in 2019, with Liga MX team Cruz Azul winning the inaugural title.
The tournament did not take place in 2020, due to COVID restrictions. In 2022, it happened only as a series of exhibition matches due to scheduling conflicts arising from the World Cup.
|Canceled due to COVID
|Seattle Sounders FC
|Exhibition matches only
How to watch the Lionel Messi debut
- Inter Miami vs. Cruz Azul, July 21, 7 p.m. ET, Apple TV (English)/TUDN (Spanish)
- All other Leagues Cup matches streaming on Apple TV, beginning July 21