Toss it all out the door when it comes to Inter Miami and Orlando City.
Add to the fact that the winner secures a berth in the round of 16 in the 2023 Leagues Cup and you have all the makings of a stout rivalry game.
Here are three things Inter Miami need to do on the pitch to hold the Lions at bay and win the next iteration of the Florida derby.
Let’s dive into it.
Alleviate Pressure on Lionel Messi
It’s no secret that Orlando City is going to put pressure on Lionel Messi every time he touches the ball.
I mean, that is the smart play.
Of course, he is talented enough to break the containment, but Inter Miami is going to need to provide other ways to exploit Orlando City’s defense.
Messi will do a solid job reading the action and putting himself in a position to be dangerous, but the rest of Inter Miami’s attack needs to provide threats to the defense and give Orlando City more to contain than just Messi.
It will also be up to the midfield and Sergio Busquets to seek out those options on the attack.
Inter Miami was most dangerous against Atlanta United when there were attacking options and not just Messi pressing up front.
Lock Down On Defense
It’s also no secret that Inter Miami’s defense is lackluster to say the least.
However, the back line did show flashes of strength against a weaker Atlanta United side in the group stages.
Goalkeeper Drake Callender has been brilliant in stopping shots, but defenders need to stay in position and not try to force Orlando City to make plays, because they will.
The Lions tout Duncan McGuire who comes into the game with 10 goals as a rookie. He’s dangerous when given space and that is something Inter Miami’s defense cannot allow to happen.
Jordi Alba is likely to get some minutes for the Herons, but they can’t rest on that being the only stop on defense.
If Sergii Kryvtsov is at full strength and Kamal Miller plays the way he did against Atlanta United, throwing Alba in the mix should be just an added benefit.
Inter Miami can ill afford to allow cheap, easy goals for Orlando City. The more they have to work for it, the more frustrated they’ll get and the more mistakes they’ll make.
Press in the Counter Attack
There were several options I had with the third key, but beating Orlando City on the counter seemed to be the most important.
The combination of Busquets and Messi is dangerous in this respect. If Inter Miami can open up other attacking options, their counterattack can be fruitful.
This means Taylor and the improved Benjamin Cremaschi need to flow up front and read the attack. That will give the midfield multiple options to press forward.
Bonus: Inter Miami Needs to Put Goals on the Board First
The Herons struggle with scoring in the first half — although they didn’t against Atlanta United (but Orlando City isn’t Atlanta United and this is a derby).
This means the pressure up front needs to be immediate and ever-present for Inter Miami.
It’s hard to play deep in a match when it’s tied, but it’s even harder to play from behind.
If Orlando City jump out front early, it adds the pressure on Inter Miami’s attack. But, if the Herons get an early lead and maintain it, the pressure will only be to force Orlando City into mistakes — which they will make if they are playing from behind.
So, if Inter Miami can contain the Lions’ attack, press forward with more options than just Messi and continue to be forceful on the counterattack, they have a solid chance at advancing in the Leagues Cup.