The RSL Show: The Pressure Of Facing Lionel Messi

Feb 21, 2024, 1:15 PM

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Lionel Messi is widely regarded as the greatest soccer player of all time.

His résumé includes a FIFA World Cup, a record eight Ballon d’Ors, four Champions Leagues, twelve league titles with Barçelona and Paris Saint-Germain, among many other trophies and individual honors. One of the most decorated footballers of all time broke the internet on June 5, 2023 when it was announced he was on the move to Major League Soccer and would join Inter Miami.

Now, Real Salt Lake are prepared to open MLS play against the superstar.


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Real Salt Lake vs. Lionel Messi

Real Salt Lake travel to Fort Lauderdale to face Lionel Messi and Inter Miami to kickoff the 2024 Major League Soccer season. This will be the first encounter between RSL and Inter Miami since the Herons joined the league back in 2020.

The anticipation surrounding the match is high, not only because it’s the solo match to kick off the new season, but also due to the added pressure of facing the GOAT.

With the addition of Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquests, and Jordi Alba, Inter Miami boasts a star-studded lineup and is considered to be one of the top contenders this season. In a match that will garner national eyes and attention, the prospect of facing Messi adds extra layers of pressure for RSL’s footballers.

However, for newly appointed captain Chicho Arango, this is merely another game to prove what the club is capable of this season.

“It’s good to play him, but it’s just another match. I want to go out and win, to give my best and hopefully the team approaches it the same way,” said Arango talking to MLS media in regards to playing Messi in the season opener.

With challenge comes opportunity and Real Salt Lake will look to test themselves among the league’s best.

RSL Players On Opener Against Inter Miami

“[Messi is] one of the greatest players of all time for a reason. It’s very tough to game plan against a guy who can make a difference at any moment of a game,” were the words of head coach Pablo Mastroeni, as his side gets ready for the challenge.

Young players on the squad are calling the encounter a dream come true to play against Messi. Diego Luna and Utah native Bode Hidalgo had high praise for the experience prior to kick off.

“To think that he won a World Cup a year ago and now we’re going to play head to head. I think it’s going to be a crazy experience and a dream come true,” said Luna.

“It’s kind of like a dream. I feel like everyone just sees his name and it’s something they’ve always wanted to do. To have that opportunity is pretty cool,” said Hidalgo.

For Real Salt Lake, the journey begins here at Chase Stadium against Lionel Messi, and they are ready to embrace the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead through the 2024 MLS Season.

You can listen to the match on KSL Sports Zone or the KSL Sports app. 

Alex Napoles is a host on The RSL Show. You can subscribe the show here and follow Alex on X here

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The RSL Show: The Pressure Of Facing Lionel Messi