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Sunday, 09 December, 2018

Alex McLeish may have to wait for his first Scotland victory

Hungary could just edge friendly clash

Alex McLeish's Scotland lost 1-0 on Friday night
1 of 1

International friendly
BBC1 Scotland, 7pm Tuesday

Two managers who made losing returns to international management get a chance for immediate redemption with Georges Leekens' Hungary just about preferred to get the better of Alex McLeish's Scotland.

Former Belgium and Tunisia boss Leekens was given the bird by Magyars fans as Hungary crashed to a 3-2 home defeat by Kazakhstan on Friday, the same night that Big Eck’s second stint in charge of the Scots ended in a meek 1-0 loss to Costa Rica.

A pair of uninspiring performances set an uninspiring backdrop to this friendly in the Groupama Arena in Budapest, though there looks to be more firepower in the home dressing room than the away one and that could prove to be the difference.

Hungary found themselves on the back foot against the Kazakhs early and were caught cold as they went 2-0 down inside ten minutes. First starts for Kenny Otigba and Endre Botka in an inexperienced back four proved costly and Leekens will add more nous to his defensive unit.

They did, however, fight back well and missed a host of chances to win the game.

Adam Szalai, Nemanja Nikolic and second-half sub Krisztian Nemeth all had opportunities and on another day would have found the target.

The Hungarians are, like Scotland, going through yet another rebirth after years of underachievement which culminated in them finishing miles adrift of Portugal and Switzerland in their World Cup qualifying group.

Scotland at least got close to second spot in their section but this is a squad short of quality which has been reduced further by the withdrawals of Scott McTominay, Matt Ritchie and Grant Hanley, none of whom have been replaced.

McLeish will make changes with starts surely guaranteed for Celtic duo Callum McGregor and Stuart Armstrong. Their introduction from the bench early in the second half against Costa Rica prompted an improvement, though the Ticos were rarely troubled.

McLeish may have to go with four at the back after losing Hanley, while Oli McBurnie looked out of his depth leading the line but the alternatives up front are hardly inspiring.

It’s never easy to get excited about these late-season friendlies but this international looks less appetising than most.

Eight of the Scots’ last nine non-competitive matches have featured two goals or fewer – indeed seven of the nine have resulted in 1-0 scorelines. Scotland have scored only one goal in their last five friendlies and that was in a 1-1 draw with Canada.

1pt 17-10 bet365

Match odds

Team news
Ex-Newcastle defender Tamas Kadar has been ruled out with a hamstring injury.

Scott McTominay, Matt Ritchie and Grant Hanley have withdrawn through injuries.

Key stat
Seven of Scotland’s last nine friendly internationals have ended with one goal scored.

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Scotland have scored only one goal in their last five friendlies
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