Tuesday , July 23 2024
Messi

Messi set to start the quarterfinal match against Ecuador

Lionel Messi is in the starting lineup for Argentina’s Copa América quarterfinal match against Ecuador tonight.

Argentine news outlet TYCSports reported Thursday morning that Messi is in line to start the Ecuador match at Houston’s NRG Stadium after his performance in Wednesday’s practice.

“He finished yesterday’s practice very well, and the captain feels good to start,” TYCSports insider Gaston Edul reported before the game.

Messi has continued to improve from a right groin/adductor strain in the last nine days. He sustained the injury in a 1-0 win over Chile on June 25, causing him to miss last Saturday’s 2-0 win against Peru in Miami.

Argentina hoped Messi would be healthy to return in the quarterfinal. It was just a matter if he would come off the bench as a substitute or start against Ecuador as his injury has trended positively during his brief recovery.

Here’s what you need to know as USA TODAY Sports provides live updates on the Argentina vs. Ecuador match Thursday night:

ESPN Argentina with the early lineup, featuring Messi as a starter, before tonight’s game.

The Argentina and Ecuador match begins at 9 p.m. ET (7 p.m. GALT and 8 p.m. ECT in Ecuador; 10 p.m. ART in Argentina).

The Argentina vs. Ecuador match on Thursday will be broadcast by FOX (in English) and on Univision/TUDN (in Spanish).

FOX Sports will provide live streams for Copa América matches. Matches also can be streamed on Fubo. Vix will provide a streaming option for Spanish-language broadcasts.

Messi’s playing time, in his return from injury, could be limited. It would be rash to push him for a full 90-minute match unless he wanted to play the entire match. But how much will Messi play?

Messi’s potential to start could indicate he might be in for an early exit. One report indicates Messi could play just 45 minutes, or the first half, of the Ecuador match.

Argentine coach Lionel Scaloni said Wednesday he would speak to Messi before the club’s practice to determine how much he will play in the Ecuador match.

“I think it’s fair to wait until the last moment,” Scaloni said, referring to Messi going through another practice Wednesday. “I think it’s fair that he should take is time and train as much as possible. So after the training, rather, before, I will talk to him and then we will make the decision.”

Messi participated in his second full practice with his Argentine teammates in Houston on Wednesday night, one day after his first. He was a limited practice participant on Monday. Messi worked solely with a trainer since suffering the injury before his return to practice.

Messi had an assist in Argentina’s 2-0 win in their Copa América opener against Canada but is scoreless through two matches.

The Argentina/Ecuador winner advances to a semifinal match against the winner of Friday’s Venezuela/Canada match. The semifinal will be played July 9 inside MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Along with the Argentina-Ecuador match Thursday, the Copa América quarterfinals continue with one match Friday and conclude with two matches Saturday.

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