Inter Miami vs Atlanta United Preview | Leagues Cup Odds & Pick

Inter Miami vs Atlanta United Preview | Leagues Cup Odds & Pick article feature image

Mike Ehrmann/Getty. Pictured: Lionel Messi.

Inter Miami vs Atlanta United Odds

Inter Miami Odds+110
Atlanta United Odds+210
Over/Under2.5 (-154 / +120)
Day | TimeTuesday | 7:30 p.m. ET
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Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute soccer odds here.

Lionel Messi will try to continue his storybook start to life in the MLS when Inter Miami host Atlanta United in another Leagues Cup clash on Tuesday night.

Messi came on early in the second half and scored a dramatic stoppage-time winner on a brilliant free kick in his debut as Miami won their Leagues Cup opener 2-1 over Cruz Azul on Friday night.

Atlanta were idle in three-team group play on the tournament's opening match day. They have lost two in a row coming into the tournament, most recently a 2-1 defeat at home to Orlando City on July 15.

Miami won the teams' only meeting this season, 2-1 at home on a brace from former Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez against his old team.

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Inter Miami Still Have Flaws Despite GOAT Addition

Friday won't be the only time Messi rescues the Herons with his individual brilliance, but the victory also proved that the addition of the world's greatest living player — albeit in the waning stages of his career — won't solve all of Miami's on-field problems.

Cruz Azul led Miami in basically every offensive category, including by a 4-to-1 edge in big chances created, according to FotMob. And if anything, Messi's second-half introduction allowed the visitors — who trailed 1-0 at the time — even more space to attack.

There are other reinforcements coming on the defensive side of the ball — including the possible early return from injury of Gregore, who hasn't played since early spring. But in the short term, Miami might be in a situation where Messi has to lead the Herons in outscoring the opponents rather than taking a lead and closing them down.

The best news for Miami might be how much Messi's introduction seemed to open things for Martinez. The numbers from the opening game might not reflect it, since his most-dangerous looking chances came on two sequences that were ruled offside, but it was the closest the Venezuelan has looked to his peak 2017 to 2019 form.

He scored 77 league goals in 83 appearances in that span while winning the 2018 MLS Golden Boot and finishing a close second the next year.

Atlanta United Adjusting to New Reality

When Miles Robinson departed Atlanta's back line for a prolonged stretch of duty for the U.S. national team, it eventually convinced manager Gonzalo Pineda to switch to a three-center-back system to give his short-handed back line some stability.

Early returns were good, in the form of shutout wins at home against Philadelphia and away to Montreal. And in the following defeats at New England (who are unbeaten at home) and home to Orlando (which have owned Atlanta recently), there was at least the consolation that Atlanta continued to out-create their opponents in terms of xG.

One big question is how much Pineda might push striker Giorgos Giakoumakis, who is already recovering from his second absence due to a recurring hamstring injury.

Giakoumakis still leads Atlanta with 10 goals despite limited action, and despite Messi's Argentina teammate Thiago Almada holding penalty kick duties. But Giakoumakis played only 20 minutes in his return to action against Orlando, and given the new nature of this competition, it wouldn't be a surprise if Pineda handled him with kid gloves until league play resumes.

Almada has eight goals this season, including a few on some brilliant free kicks that were probably better than Messi's late strike last Friday.

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Inter Miami vs Atlanta United pick

Miami may have won through Messi's late heroics, but they were exceedingly fortunate to be in the game through a combination of Cruz Azul's wastefulness and goalkeeper Drake Callender's exceptional play.

You could even argue the Herons were incorrectly favored, although they ultimately emerged with three points. They go again against an Atlanta United team that is probably better than Cruz Azul, and the line is almost identical.

I think this should certainly be closer to a pick'em than it is. But the price on the draw might be even softer. Sharing the points would be a fine result for Miami and it would guarantee them a place in the next round. It's been Atlanta's MO on the road for much of the season.

Since I like the price on Atlanta but love the price on the draw, I'm leveraging those leans and playing the draw on the visitor-no-bet market at +140 odds and an implied 41.7% probability that this game finishes tied if Atlanta doesn't win it. For me, it's closer to 50-50. If Atlanta wins, the bet is void.

I also like Giakoumakis as an anytime goal scorer if he starts, or a "to score next" wager if he comes on with a half-hour or more remaining. However, I'm not convinced he starts given this is his second recovery from injury in several months, so I'm waiting until lineups there.

Pick: Atlanta United – Draw No Bet (+140 via BetMGM)

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