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Xherdan Shaqiri: “Inter Miami are a different team with Lionel Messi”

The Chicago Fire forward is confident ahead of the MLS clash at Solider Field, but is only too aware of Messi’s quality.

Xherdan Shaqiri: “Miami are a different team without Messi”
Joseph MaioranaUSA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Xherdan Shaqiri believes that his Chicago Fire side have what it takes to defeat Inter Miami this evening, whether or not Lionel Messi is fit to play for the Herons.

With the regular-season finale fast approaching Chicago host Miami in a game that will be crucial to both teams’ playoff aspirations.

Chicago are in 11th, outside the playoff places on goal difference alone. Meanwhile Miami are four points adrift of the final wild card spot, but have a game in hand on all of the teams above them.

Ahead of the game, Shaqiri insisted that he is not focusing on the prospect of facing the Argentine World Cup winner.

“The preparation is not going to change, we’re going to prepare like normal,” Shaqiri said. “If Messi’s injured or not, personally I’m not thinking too much about this. At the end of the day it’s one game and we’ll try to beat Miami at home with a big crowd.”

Miami are “a different team” with Messi

But while Shaqiri and his teammates will be preparing for the game as any other, he is only too aware of the difference that Messi makes to this Miami side. Messi suffered a reoccurrence of a hamstring issue in a recent game against Toronto FC and has missed the subsequent three matches. Miami have not won any of those three games.

Follow all the latest on Messi and Miami...

In their four MLS fixtures with Messi Miami have picked up an average of 2.5 points per game. They average just 1 point per game in the five league games that he has missed since joining the team.

Speaking ahead of the game, Shaqiri said: Of course, Inter Miami is a different team when Messi plays, you saw that in the last few games.”

“When Messi plays everybody in the team is better and that’s why he’s the best in the world at the moment.”

Is Messi playing against Chicago tonight?

It’s the question on everybody’s lips ahead of Chicago Fire vs Inter Miami; will Lionel Messi be fit to play?

Ahead of the game there has been no signal from Miami to suggest that Messi is ready to make a return from injury. The 36-year-old has been in training over the past week but head coach Gerardo ‘Tata’ Martino has insisted that the team will not rush back their star player.

“We will see in the training, if we are running any type of risk and will evaluate if it’s convenient for him to travel or not,” Martino said after team practice on Tuesday.

The club then posted photos of the team as they boarded their flight to Chicago on Tuesday afternoon, but Messi did not feature in the images shared online.

A sign that Messi has not travelled or a clever bluff from the team? We’ll find out on Wednesday night.