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USA Today via Reuters

Inter Miami will pack its bag on Sunday as they travel for their MLS away fixture against New England Revolution. The Matchday 10 fixture will be played at Gillette Stadium, where a record sold-out crowd of more than 60,000 is expected to flock to watch none other than Lionel Messi. Yet, the spectators might be in for a blow, with the Herons reportedly in a mood to bench the Argentinian superstar as they look to avoid repeating the Aaron Rodgers blunder.

“The truth is my youth was spent on artificial turf.” This is what La Pulga said earlier when asked about his views on playing on the most debatable pitches in sports. Regardless, doubts have surfaced regarding his presence in the upcoming match as Revolution, sharing Gillette Stadium with the Patriots, is among the six out of 29 MLS teams that play on synthetic turf. It also reignites a debate over safety concerns about playing on synthetic turf, known for its perceived higher risk of injuries.

USA Today via Reuters

New York Jets star Aaron Rodgers also became the victim of the surface back in September, during the week 1 clash against Buffalo Bills. This would certainly instill fear in a team like Inter Miami, which is dependent on the services of Messi and can’t risk him sustaining a long-term injury. Earlier, the likes of David Beckham, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Thierry Henry have dodged playing at Gillette Stadium. 

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Miami owner Becks once even expressed his discontent, saying, “As a professional athlete, you can’t play a game like soccer on that sort of field. What it does to your body as a soccer player, you’re in bits for three days after that.” Interestingly, Messi isn’t alone in taking precautions against the artificial turf. 

Lionel Messi might be joined by Luis Suarez on the bench against the New England Revolution

Luis Suarez is also looking to skip the Gillette Stadium clash against the New England Revolution, according to reports. While playing for Gremio in Brazil, the Uruguayan international refused to play on the pitches of São José, Palmeiras, and Athletico due to the artificial turf. Hence, it is being said that he could follow suit for the weekend’s clash. Already, the striker has struggled to keep up his fitness, and taking precautions will only save him from a potential injury scare. 

USA Today via Reuters

However, it’s unlikely that Tata Martino will leave him at Fort Lauderdale. In an attempt to further extend his side’s lead, the Miami boss will at least keep both Messi and Suarez on the bench if things go south. As for the Miami skipper, he debunked his fears of playing on turf not just by saying that he has “No problem,” but also by playing a full 90-minute regular-season finale match last October against Charlotte FC. While it gives fans hope to see Messi face the Revolution, the final decision rests with Inter Miami.

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Written by

Abhishek Mishra

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Abhishek Mishra is a senior Soccer Writer at EssentiallySports. His early exposure to playing soccer earned him many accolades at college divisions, making him a sports enthusiast. While closely following daily updates for over a decade, Abhishek is well-versed in European soccer and now the MLS, as well.
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Edited by

Tushhita Barua