Sports Mole previews Sunday's Major League Soccer clash between Inter Miami and CF Montreal, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
The 2023 MLS season kicks off this weekend as Inter Miami welcome CF Montreal to the DRV PNK Stadium in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Inter Miami and Montreal will be looking to start the 2023 campaign strongly having both enjoyed excellent seasons last term with Inter Miami finishing sixth and Montreal finishing second in the Eastern Conference table.
Phil Neville's Inter Miami are looking to build on last season's sixth-placed finish in the Eastern Conference, when a contributing factor to the Florida outfit's season was their excellent home record of 10 wins and only four losses in 17 games.
The Herons also finished last season in decent form, winning four and losing only two of the last six matches of the campaign. Phil Neville's side scored 12 goals during these matches, which made them the third-highest scorers in the division over this period.
The Florida outfit will be hoping that they can carry this momentum into the new season as they look to claim three points on Sunday.
Gonzalo Higuain's retirement is a blow for Miami as the Argentine's 16 league goals last season fired them to a top-six finish, Neville's side were knocked out in the first round of the MLS Cup playoffs by New York City.
Leonardo Campana will be the Herons' main hope for goals this term after his loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers was made permanent last month following a fine haul of 11 goals in 26 appearances last season.
Hernan Losada's Montreal enjoyed an excellent 2022 season finishing second in the division with 65 points, just two points behind table-toppers Philadelphia Union, before they were beaten by New York City in the semi-finals of the MLS Cup playoffs.
The CFM also had a fantastic away record last season of 11 wins in 17 games, scoring 33 goals in the process, and they will be hoping to maintain this away form when they travel to Florida on Sunday.
Losada's side ended last season as the division's form team as they were unbeaten in their final six games of the campaign, winning five of those matches and scoring 14 goals.
The sales of Ismael Kone, Djordje Mihailovic and Alistair Johnston to Watford, AZ Alkmaar and Celtic respectively, are all big losses to Montreal and Losada will hope that other members of the squad can replace their output in the new season.
Montreal have an excellent recent record against Miami, winning four of the last six matches between the teams and the CFM will be looking to add to their tally of wins when they meet again on Sunday.
Inter Miami form (all competitions):
CF Montreal form (all competitions):
Inter Miami will be without forward Corentin Jean on Sunday as he is struggling with a knee injury.
Campana is likely to start as the lone striker in Phil Neville's 4-3-3 system so new signing Josef Martinez may have to make his debut from the bench.
The Florida outfit will also be missing left-winger Robbie Robinson and centre-half Ian Fray against Montreal as they have muscle and cruciate ligament injuries, respectively.
Montreal have a clean bill of health for Sunday's opener so Hernan Losada will be able to field his usual 3-4-2-1 formation.
Sean Rea and Ahmed Hamdi will take up the attacking midfield roles in place of the departed Kone and Mihailovic, whilst new signing Aaron Herrera is likely to make his debut at right wing-back after Johnston's move to Celtic.
Joel Waterman, Rudy Camacho and Kamal Miller will make up Montreal's back three, whilst Samuel Piette and former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Victor Wanyama will protect the defence.
Inter Miami possible starting lineup:
Callender; Yedlin, Mabika, Lowe, McVey; Mota, Gregore, Pozuelo; Taylor, Campana, Lassiter
CF Montreal possible starting lineup:
Pantemis; Waterman, Camacho, Miller; Piette, Wanyama, Herrera, Lappalainen; Rea, Hamdi; Kamara
This is likely to be a tight contest with both sides being without key players from last season.
Montreal will be confident of taking last season's excellent away record into the new campaign and their positive momentum from the end of the 2022 season may just give them the edge against Miami.
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