Inter Miami’s Global Tour Finale in Tokyo: Messi’s Impact and Mixed Results

In the culmination of Inter Miami’s global promotional tour, Tokyo witnessed a clash that echoed both disappointment and exhilaration as Lionel Messi graced the pitch for the final half-hour. After the setback in Hong Kong, Messi’s appearance in Tokyo sparked renewed enthusiasm among fans, although the match’s conclusion left some yearning for more.

Messi’s Dynamic Entry

Entering the game as a substitute, Messi injected vitality into the proceedings, displaying his trademark prowess and influencing his teammates positively. In the 80th minute, he created a nail-biting moment with two close-range shots, thwarted only by the resolute Vissel Kobe defense.

The Decisive Showdown

The regulation time concluded with a goalless draw, setting the stage for a dramatic penalty shootout. Unfortunately for Inter Miami, Vissel emerged victorious with a 4-3 triumph. Notably, Messi abstained from taking a penalty, eliciting disapproval from the 28,614-strong crowd at Tokyo’s National Stadium.

The Tokyo match served as a redemptive opportunity for Messi following the public relations debacle in Hong Kong. Addressing concerns in a rare press conference, Messi expressed contrition and uncertainty about his fitness leading up to the Tokyo fixture. The decision to play him for 30 minutes was a pivotal one, and the crowd’s cheers upon his warm-up signaled a collective anticipation.

Insights from Inter Miami Coach

Inter Miami coach Gerardo Martino shed light on the decision, emphasizing Messi’s comfort on the field. However, the coach remained silent on Messi’s penalty abstention, leaving fans speculating about the strategic reasoning behind the choice.

Vissel’s Dominance and Missed Opportunities

Vissel Kobe, with two post hits in the first half, showcased superiority throughout the match, creating ample scoring opportunities. Despite their dominance, the game remained fiercely contested, ultimately leading to the penalty drama.

A Global Odyssey Comes to an End

This Tokyo fixture marked the conclusion of Inter Miami’s extensive global promotional tour, spanning El Salvador, Dallas, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong, and now Tokyo. The team, boasting former Barcelona luminaries such as Messi, Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba, and Sergio Busquets, experienced mixed fortunes, winning only one of the six games.

What Lies Ahead

As the global odyssey concludes, Inter Miami now focuses on their preseason finale against Newell’s Old Boys in Florida on Feb. 16. Speculation lingers about Messi potentially finishing his illustrious career with his boyhood club from Rosario, Argentina.


The Tokyo encounter encapsulated the highs and lows of Inter Miami’s global journey, with Messi’s impact, strategic decisions, and Vissel Kobe’s dominance creating a compelling narrative. As the team regroups for the upcoming challenges, the football world awaits the next chapter in Lionel Messi’s storied career. 

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