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Lionel Messi on the bench for Inter Miami’s friendly with Al-Nassr, Cristiano Ronaldo misses out

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Lionel Messi is set to play a limited role, if any, in Inter Miami’s friendly against Al-Nassr on Thursday.

The World Cup winner was named to the bench ahead of kickoff, per the Miami Herald, which nixed original reporting that he would not be in the gameday squad at all.  He was due to sit out as a precaution after feeling discomfort and undergoing an MRI and the injury concern seemed like a short-term one.

Miami’s other stars — Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba — will all start the match.

News of Messi’s limited availability comes just one day after Al-Nassr’s Cristiano Ronaldo was ruled out of the match with an undisclosed injury. He picked up the injury sometime before Al-Nassr’s two-match tour of China last week, which was eventually postponed, but is expected to resume training in the next few days.

The matchup between Al-Nassr and Miami was billed as the “last dance” for Ronaldo and Messi, who enjoyed a storied rivalry during their years in Europe, most notably on the books of Real Madrid and Barcelona, respectively. It would have served as the first time both players would face each other in a year, when Messi featured for then-club Paris Saint-Germain in a 5-4 friendly win over the Riyadh All-Stars.

This will be Miami’s second and final game in Saudi Arabia as they continue a globe-trotting preseason tour that will see them travel more than 24,000 miles. They kicked off the stay in Riyadh with a 4-3 loss to Al-Hilal, who were missing Neymar while he recovers from an ACL tear.

Miami have yet to win three games into preseason, but still have three more games in addition to the Al-Nassr friendly before they kick off the 2024 MLS season against Real Salt Lake on Feb. 21.

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