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Monday, 17 December, 2018

Scotland could struggle to adjust to Mexican conditions

Alex McLeish's inexperienced side may be up against it

Alex McLeish's Scotland struggled against Peru
1 of 1

International friendly
BBC1 Scotland, 1am Saturday night

The timescales of a double-header in Peru and Mexico mean the Scots haven’t had time to acclimatise to the rarefied air of Mexico City, so expect them to wilt against Juan Carlos Osorio’s men at the Azteca.

Alex McLeish and his inexperienced squad flew in on Friday from Lima, where they had been strictly second-best in a 2-0 defeat at the hands of the Peruvians.

That they kept Peru down to two given how much possession the hosts had was creditable enough and there is no reason to think they can’t keep modest Mexico in their sights.

Mexico haven’t lost at their spiritual home in the capital for more than five years, but El Tri are struggling to put away sides – they have won only three of their last seven matches and two of those were 1-0.

They drew 0-0 against a youthful Wales in California on Monday, although it was worth bearing in mind that just two of Osorio’s recognised World Cup starters kicked off against Ryan Giggs's boys and they could be stronger for this clash.

The likely outcome is a Mexico win, something amply illustrated by the prices, but it may not necessarily be a massacre. Just as likely is the Scots fading in debilitating conditions.

Mexico have been level at the interval in four of their six friendlies since the end of their qualifying campaign and against a brave if limited Scotland side they may well be frustrated again. The home team should, however, prevail eventually as the visitors tire.

It’s hard to see Scotland producing a surprise win, or even holding out for the draw. They are down to 16 outfield players so McLeish has little room for manoeuvre and they have scored only two goals in their last seven friendlies.

Draw-Mexico double result
1pt 3-1 Betway

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Team news
Skipper Andres Guardado, Diego Reyes and Hector Moreno all missed the Wales match through injury.

Johnny Russell has joined up with squad. Left-back Lewis Stevenson and striker Matt Phillips have flown home.

Key stat
Mexico’s last five friendlies since November have featured a total of six goals.

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Mexico haven’t lost at their spiritual home in the capital for over five years, but El Tri are struggling to put sides away
E.W. Terms
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