Messi Facing A CPL Team Really Could Happen Next Year
The magic of Leo Messi has lifted Inter Miami into the 2024 Champions Cup, opening up the possibility of his team facing one of two Canadian Premier League sides also set for the competition.
When the World Cup winner was announced by Inter Miami, we postulated that a drastic turnaround in form could tee up a Messi vs CPL matchup next year through one of three ways. Tonight, one of them came true.
Messi just helped Inter Miami soar to a 4-1 win in a Leagues Cup semi-final against the Philadelphia Union, putting his team one match away from a continental trophy. Beyond that, however, the astounding turn of club form now sees Inter Miami lock in one of three 2024 Concacaf Champions Cup berths awarded through their strong Leagues Cup play, with both the winner and runner-up – one of whom will be Miami – getting spots in the tournament.
With the Canadian Premier League sending both its regular season winner and the playoff champion to the Champions Cup, that opens up a real chance that we might see the Argentine hero deployed against CPL opposition.
It should be noted that even now, the odds will still take some doing: should Inter Miami win the Leagues Cup, they’ll skip right on through to the Round of 16, so a CPL side would need to win its opening match to have a chance to face Miami. If Miami loses its Leagues Cup final, it will be one of 20 clubs that the two CPL teams could get drawn against in the first round – assuming the CPL sides don’t draw eachother, of course.
Still, we’re one match away from Inter Miami either being one potential round away from CPL competition, or having roughly a one-in-ten chance of being drawn against a Canadian Premier League in the opening round. Regardless of who hosts the affair, that’s a tantalizing prospect that could shine a bright spotlight on the burgeoning league.
The Canadian Premier League has graced Concacaf’s premier continental competition before, with Forge FC taking a similar route to what Miami just did: they progressed far enough in a different continental competition to book a Champions Cup spot, with the hammers falling to Cruz Azul in the opening round.
Whatever happens this time around, the idea that more than one Canadian Premier League team could realistically get the chance to knock Messi out of the competition is quite a though to behold.