Alex McLeish’s Scotland side conclude their end-of-season Americas tour with a trip to the iconic Estadio Azteca in Mexico City to play FIFA World Cup qualifiers Mexico.
Following Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat to Peru in Lima, Scotland will again serve as the warm-up act for a World Cup-bound nation, with the famous stadium sold out for this hotly-anticipated match.
Following the match against Peru, which saw no less than seven Scotland players earn their first caps, Alex McLeish will be hoping for a similar battling performance from his side in what will be testing conditions.
After starting against Peru earlier this week both Matt Phillips and Lewis Stevenson, who made his Scotland debut in the match, have been allowed to leave the camp due to personal engagements that were already arranged prior to their call-up to the squad.
Sporting Kansas City forward Johnny Russell will be hoping to add to his four caps, having joined up with the squad on Tuesday morning after being in action for his club at the weekend.
All six uncapped outfield players in the squad made their debut against Peru, along with goalkeeper Jordan Archer. This leaves the other two goalkeepers, Scott Bain and Jon McLaughlin, as the only uncapped players in the squad.
Mexico have included their 39-year old iconic captain Rafael Marquez in their preliminary 28-man squad for the World Cup. Should he make the final squad he will become only the third player to have played in five World Cups. He will be hoping to earn his 144th cap against Scotland.
Thoughts of the players
Norwich midfielder Kenny McLean won his fourth Scotland cap against Peru on Wednesday morning and is now looking forward to testing himself against more top quality opposition in one of the most iconic stadiums in the world.
“The other night against Peru was tough but we expected that. We knew what kind of match it would be, that they would have a lot of the ball and be comfortable in possession.
“It was a good test for us, a good workout. The atmosphere was excellent and it’s games like this you want to be involved in.
“Mexico will be similar, it will be harder conditions but the opposition will be as good – it’s something to look forward to and something everybody wants to be involved in.
“The longer tour has been excellent, it’s always good to come away and represent your country.
“When you are in this environment, away from your club teammates with a new group of boys, it’s always good to see fresh faces and everybody has really settled in well.
“Everyone has made everyone else feel welcome, it’s a good group of boys, and everyone is just desperate to show what they can do on the pitch.
“Is the Azteca on the bucket list? Of course, everybody’s been talking about it.
“We’ve heard about the numbers that are going to be there – it’s something everyone will want to be involved in and I’m no different to that.
“It is an iconic stadium – one of the best around the world – and to be involved in matches like this is why you want to play at this level.
“Although it’s a friendly match it’s something we will remember for a long time and it will be pretty special.
“We know how good Mexico are going to be. The South and Central Americans are always comfortable on the ball and we know they have some quality players.
“We have watched them already and we will do more video analysis over the coming days so we will get a bit more insight into their qualities and try to exploit their weaknesses.”
Thoughts of the coaching staff
Where will the game be played?
The match will be played at the iconic Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. The giant stadium has a capacity of 87,523 and has hosted some of the most famous matches of all time, including the 1970 and 1986 FIFA World Cup Finals.
It was also the scene of the infamous ‘Hand of God’ moment, when Diego Maradonna scored with his hand against England in the 1986 FIFA World Cup.
How have Mexico fared recently?
Mexico’s recent run of good form has seen them rise to 15th in the FIFA world rankings, their highest place since 2012.
They qualified for the World Cup by topping the CONCACAF qualification group, losing only one match in the process and finishing above Costa Rica, to whom Scotland lost 1-0 at Hampden Park in March.
Their build-up to the World Cup has been largely successful, winning International Challenge Matches against Bosnia and Herzegovina and Iceland, drawing with Belgium and losing 1-0 to Croatia.
Their most recent match saw them draw 0-0 with Wales in California earlier this week.
Who are the key players for Mexico?
In stark contrast to Scotland’s inexperienced squad, the Mexico preliminary squad for the FIFA World Cup boasts more than 1,400 caps between them.
The squad contains a number of players plying their trade in major leagues across the world. West Ham striker Javier Hernandez will be familiar to fans of English football and will be one of the key danger men for Mexico. The former Manchester United and Real Madrid player has scored 49 goals in 191 appearances for his national team.
Former Arsenal forward Carlos Vela is now one of several members of the squad playing in MLS. After joining Los Angeles FC earlier this year he now contests the LA derby against fellow Mexico teammates Giovanni and Jonathan dos Santos, the two brothers playing for LA Galaxy having come through the ranks at Barcelona.
Previous meetings between Scotland and Mexico
The match will see both teams wade into unknown territory, having never faced each other before.
Where can you watch it?
The match will be shown live on BBC One Scotland at 1am on Sunday, 3 June.
To purchase your membership of the Scotland Supporters Club, visit https://tickets.scottishfa.co.uk