Lionel Messi will return to Argentina this week for two 2026 World Cup qualifiers. The first game will be against Paraguay on Thursday night at the Estadio Monument in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Will Messi still play?
Messi returned to Miami’s Inter Stadium on Saturday as the team lost 1-0 to MLS Supporters’ Shield champion FC Cincinnati. As a result, Miami was eliminated from playoff contention. In the 55th minute, Messi replaced Thomas Aviles. Previously, Messi missed many games of Inter Milan due to the recurrence of an old injury.
Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni told reporters on Wednesday that he would speak to Messi before the Paraguay game to see if he would be fit for the game. The team’s second qualifying match will be against Peru in Lima on Tuesday.
“I have to talk to him first and above all I have to make sure he starts,” Scaloni told reporters.
At halftime, Otamendi scored, Argentina 1-0 Paraguay
Nicolas Otamendi’s goal three minutes into the first half proved to be the difference. Argentina was in complete control, with 10 shots on goal to Paraguay’s 2. Paraguay goalkeeper Carlos Coronel had made three saves but the team had to be lucky as Nicolas Gonzalez’s shot missed the goal by just a foot before the break.
So far, Paraguay has only had 26% of the ball in the game and only had 2 shots on goal in the entire game.
Gonzalez’s shot went just wide of the goal
Minutes after their latest attack, Argentina’s Nicolas Gonzalez attempted another shot from the center of the box. The goal was just beyond Carlos Coronel’s outstretched hand and a foot (45′) from the right post.
Coronel, Paraguay survive Argentinian fire
Argentina fired three shots in five minutes. Alexis Mike Allister and Rodrigo De Paul’s two shots went wide from the right and Carlos Coronel saved Nicolas Gonzalez’s third goal . The score remains 1-0 (42 min).
Argentina header goes over goal
Argentina’s Cristian Romero attempted a header from the center of the penalty area on a pass from Rodrigo De Paul, but it was too high and went over the Paraguayan goal (25′).
The two sides exchange penalties and free kicks
Paraguay’s Ramon Sosa won a free kick on the left wing after a foul by Rodrigo De Paul. Less than a minute later, DePaul won a free kick in the defensive half after a foul on Ivan Ramirez (23′).
Paraguay received a yellow card
Paraguay defender Junior Alonso was shown a yellow card after fouling Argentina’s Alexis MacAllister (21′).
Carlos Coronel makes a close save
Argentinian forward Lautaro Martinez had a great chance on the right side of the penalty area, but Paraguay goalkeeper Carlos Coronel made a diving save (16′).
Messi comes on as substitute for tonight’s match
In Thursday’s game, Argentina started with a 4-3-3 formation, but Messi did not start. As he was playing Inter Miami’s last game, he was one of 12 substitutes for the game.
Argentina received an early yellow card
Midfielder Enzo Fernandez was shown a yellow card after a foul on Paraguay’s Gustavo Gomez (7′).
Nicolas Otamendi goals: Defender scores from inside the box
Otamendi scored from the right side of the penalty area and Argentina took the lead early. Otamendi’s goal came from a corner kick and a cross from midfielder Rodrigo De Paul (3 minutes).
Kick-off: Argentina vs Paraguay
The competition officially begins in Buenos Aires.
What time does the Argentina vs Paraguay match start?
The game is scheduled to begin Thursday at 7 p.m. ET.
Where to watch Messi lead Argentina against Paraguay
The game will be broadcast on Universo’s Spanish-language broadcast. FuboTV will also offer streaming services.
What else did Argentina head coach Lionel Scaloni say about Messi?
Scaloni understands that this World Cup qualifier in Buenos Aires is important for the team and the fans. But this is the first of Argentina’s four qualifiers over the next six weeks.
“We have a game against Peru in four days and it’s difficult to say whether he will be able to play, the important thing is that he feels comfortable,” Scaloni said on Wednesday. “What makes us calm is that if he is not fit, no matter who takes his place. He will do well.”
CONMEBOL 2026 World Cup Qualifiers
Argentina’s game against Paraguay is one of five games today. Today’s other games are as follows:
- Colombia vs Uruguay
- Bolivia vs Ecuador
- Chile vs Peru
- Brazil vs Venezuela
Argentina’s four games in six weeks start today. Here is the team’s schedule for this fall’s World Cup qualifying rounds:
- Thursday. 10/12: Argentina vs. Paraguay, 7:00 pm ET, Universo/FuboTV
- Tuesday. 10/17: Argentina vs. Peru, 10:00 p.m. ET, TBD
- Thursday. 11/16: Argentina vs. Uruguay, 7:00 p.m. ET, TBD
- Tuesday. Nov. 21: Argentina vs. Brazil, 7:30 p.m. ET, TBD
inter miami schedule
Inter Miami has just two games remaining in the 2023 Major League Soccer (MLS) season following the club’s 1-0 defeat on Saturday:
- Wednesday. 10/18: Inter Miami vs. Charlotte FC, 8:00 PM ET, Apple TV
- Saturday. October 21: Inter Miami vs. Charlotte FC, 6:00 p.m. ET, Apple TV
Are Messi and Inter Miami in the MLS playoffs?
The club lost 1-0 to FC Cincinnati, ending its MLS playoff chances.
The Argentine Football Association (AFA) announced its latest roster of 27 players in June. The list includes:
- Goalkeepers Emiliano Martinez, Franco Armani, Juan Musso and Walter Benitez
- Defenders Nicolas Otamendi, Marcos Acuna, Nicolas Tagliafico, Germán Pezzella, Nahuel Molina, Christian Romero, Gonzalo Montiel, Lucas Martinez Quarta and Facundo Medina
- Midfielders Leandro Paredes, Rodrigo De Paul, Giovanni Lo Celso, Guido Rodriguez, Exequiel Palacios, Ya Alexis MacAllister and Enzo Fernandez
- Forwards Lionel Messi, Lautaro Martinez, Nicolas Gonzalez, Julian Alvarez, Lucas Ocampos, Alejandro Garnacho and Ya Alejandro Ganaccio
The team announced its roster for the match against Argentina on Instagram last week. The lineup includes:
- Goalkeepers Carlos Coronel, Santiago Rojas and Juan Espinola
- Defenders Gustavo Gomez, Junior Alonso, Fabian Balbuena, Roberto Rojas, Santiago Alzamendia, Omar Aldrete, Alberto Espinola, Mateo Gamarra, Ivan Ramirez and Matias Espinosa
- Midfielders Miguel Almiron, Richard Sanchez, Matias Verasanti, Alejandro Romero Gamarra, Matias Rojas, Gaston Jimenez, Brian Ojeda, Matias Garralza, Alvaro Campuzano and Damien Bobadilla
- Forwards Antonio Sanabria, Gabriel Avalos, Ramon Souza, Hector Villalba and Adam Barreiro
Messi Meets America: How to watch the AppleTV+ documentary about Lionel Messi
Messi’s move to Inter Miami from Paris Saint-Germain is one of the biggest sports stories of the year, and AppleTV+ is giving fans a behind-the-scenes look at his arrival.
The first four episodes of Messi Meets America are now available on Apple TV+. According to Apple, the final two episodes are still in production and will be released later this season.
Watch the trailer for the series here: