Lionel Messi will start in Inter Miami's MLS season opener: How to watch Wednesday's match

Major League Soccer’s 29th season begins Wednesday, and the world’s best player will be featured in primetime.

LIVE UPDATES: Lionel Messi, Inter Miami vs. Real Salt Lake score, highlights and more

Lionel Messi is healthy and prepared to play all 90 minutes — if needed — of Inter Miami’s opening match against Real Salt Lake in the newly named Chase Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Newcomer Luis Suarez, Messi’s former teammate from his Barcelona days, is also healthy for his Inter Miami debut.

“They’re playing and they’re ready to play,” Inter Miami coach Tata Martino said of Messi and Suarez during a news conference Tuesday. “If they’re required to play 90 minutes, we’re going to look at it always depending on the need of the team.”

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How to watch Messi match: Inter Miami vs. Real Salt Lake  

MLS Season Pass on Apple TV will stream the Inter Miami vs. Real Salt Lake season kickoff match.

Inter Miami CF forward Lionel Messi (10) takes a free kick against the Newell's Old Boys during the first half at DRV PNK Stadium.
Inter Miami CF forward Lionel Messi (10) takes a free kick against the Newell's Old Boys during the first half at DRV PNK Stadium.

Messi debuts Apple Music playlist, Argentina documentary on Apple TV+

Lionel Messi fans can find their Messi fix on Apple TV+ and Apple Music.

The documentary “Messi’s World Cup: The Rise of a Legend” debuts Wednesday on Apple TV+ in time for the start of the MLS season.

Messi and Apple Music also released a music playlist Tuesday, titled “Messi: The Warm-Up.”

“For as long as I can remember, music has played an important part in my life, especially on match days,” Messi told Apple Music. “Music quiets my mind, helps me stay calm and relaxed.”

MLS Season Pass on Apple TV will also broadcast every MLS game this season.

Update on Messi, Suarez, Sergio Busquets injuries

Martino said Messi is “fully fit” after experiencing some discomfort in his hip adductor, causing him to miss a preseason match in Hong Kong Feb. 4. Messi has returned to form after two preseason matches in Tokyo Feb. 7 and played against his childhood club Newell’s Old Boys last Thursday.

As for Suarez, he also missed the Hong Kong match due to knee inflammation, but played in Tokyo and against Newell’s.

Inter Miami’s Sergio Busquets, another former Barcelona star, is also healthy after an ankle injury in Tokyo, and should play in the opener. He did not play against Newell’s.

Can Lionel Messi and Inter Miami be MLS Cup champions?

Let’s get right into the expectations for Messi and Inter Miami in 2024.

Inter Miami will participate in the Champions Cup, the Leagues Cup, the U.S. Open Cup and the MLS Cup this season, and Messi intends to play for Argentina in Copa America and other World Cup qualifying games.

The goal is to win, of course.

“I want to win all of the tournaments during the season,” Inter Miami’s Jordi Alba, the fourth former Barcelona star on the team.

“We’ll see which ones we can win, but the attention of the team is to go game-to-game, and we’ll see how far we can go. Hopefully, we can win all of them. That’s the idea.”

However, USA TODAY Network's soccer reporters and writers are skeptical on Inter Miami’s chances to win the MLS title this season.

Messi clears the air on China trip

Messi posted a video Monday on Weibo, one of the largest social media platforms in China, to dispel “false stories” he did not play in Hong Kong earlier this month due to “political reasons and many other reasons that are totally untrue.”

Messi reaffirmed his adductor injury was the cause for his absence, which was met with disappointment by fans and local officials in Hong Kong.

“I’d already said all of this, but I think it was important to say it again now after everything that’s being said,” Messi said. “As always, I send good wishes to everyone to China, who I’ve always had and continue to have special affection. I hope to see you again soon.”

Messi meets fan who created sneakers to honor Messi’s career

Andrés Salerno never thought his Lionel Messi customized sneakers would go viral. And he never thought he would get the chance to make a pair, and give them directly to his soccer idol.

Salerno, a DJ and sneaker customizer from Oakland, California, flew to Miami last week to meet Messi and present him with the shoes.

“It was amazing. It was magical. It was brief, probably less than 10 minutes. I got a chance to present him with the shoes, and talk about the design,” said Salerno, also known as DJ Stepwise and sneaker designer Stepkicks.

“I’m Argentinian. This was definitely a dream come true for me.”

Lionel Messi, Inter Miami upcoming schedule

After Wednesday’s opener, Inter Miami will travel to face L.A. Galaxy Feb. 25.

Here’s the Inter Miami schedule for March 2024:

∎March 2: Orlando at 4:30 p.m. (Home)

∎March 7: Nashville SC or Moca FC at Time TBD (Away)

This will be the first leg of a Round of 16 match in the CONCACAF Champions Cup.

∎March 10: Montreal at 5 p.m. (Home)

∎March 13: Nashville SC or Moca FC at Time TBD (Home)

This is the second leg of a Round of 16 match in the CONCACAF Champions Cup.

∎March 16: DC at 2 p.m. (Away)

∎March 23: New York Red Bulls at 2 p.m. (Away)

∎March 30: NYCFC at 7:30 p.m. (Home)

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Messi match Wednesday: Inter Miami vs. Real Salt Lake, how to watch