Mexico say goodbye to their home fans before embarking on their World Cup quest with a friendly match against Scotland at the Estadio Azteca on Saturday (8pm ET).
The team bid farewell to their United States-based supporters with a 0-0 draw against Wales in the packed out, 82,000-capacity Rose Bowl in Pasadena on Monday. It was not exactly a thriller, but it fulfilled a couple of functions for coach Juan Carlos Osorio and his team.
Firstly, it provided him with a chance to take a look at his fringe players, including a few who are fighting for the four slots in his squad still potentially open for contest. Jurgen Damm and Oswaldo Alanis didn’t really take advantage of the opportunity, while Erick Gutierrez was also relatively quiet. But Edson Alvarez performed solidly in two separate positions, and Jesus Molina provided a steadying influence at the base of the midfield.
Secondly, Osorio was able to give minutes to Jonathan and Giovani Dos Santos, both of whom had joined up with the group carrying minor niggles. While neither especially stood out, the fact that they both made it out onto the pitch suggests they will be fine for the World Cup as long as they don’t encounter any further setbacks.
That leaves Osorio with three major injury concerns: Andres Guardado, Diego Reyes and Hector Moreno. Their fitness will be assessed over the course of the week, and the hope is that they will at least be able to take part to some extent on Saturday, two days before the June 4th deadline by which Osorio must submit his final, 23-man World Cup squad.
Osorio was content with the way his side performed against Wales, despite the result. Mexico lined up in their habitual 4-3-3 formation and enjoyed good territory without being able to fashion a great number of chances. Hector Herrera had their best of the match, well-saved by Wayne Hennessey early into the second half, and was probably their standout performer.
Osorio gave no clues regarding the probable makeup of his squad in his post-match press conference. As it stands, if Guardado, Reyes and Moreno are all fit enough for inclusion, then Alanis, Damm, Gutierrez and Molina probably look the most likely to drop out, but this week’s training sessions and performances in the match against Scotland could yet change things.
Scotland travel to Mexico City on the back of a 0-2 loss away to Peru in Lima on Tuesday. Alex McLeish felt that his side did a decent job of containing their hosts for much of the first half of an encounter played in stifling conditions and in front of a raucous crowd, but two goals either side of half time saw them fall to a relatively meek defeat.
McLeish named an experimental squad for these fixtures, leaving out a number of the Celtic contingent and also those who took part in late-season matches with their clubs. Andy Robertson was involved in Liverpool’s Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid, while Fulham’s Kevin McDonald and Tom Cairney and Aston Villa’s Robert Snodgrass were on opposite sides in the Championship playoff final, won by Fulham with a Cairney goal.
The group was further weakened by a number of subsequent injury pullouts, leaving him with a squad that featured nine previously uncapped players, including all three goalkeepers, and just two players with more than 10 caps to their name. Seven players made their debuts against Peru, and the team against Mexico is likely to see further changes, with McLeish keen to give minutes to all of the players who have joined him on this brief tour of the Americas.
Mexico are likely to field a stronger side on Saturday than they did against Wales, which only featured two or three players who are nailed-down starters. Given that Scotland are, in general, less fearsome opponents, and that their significantly weakened squad only amplifies that, Mexico should be expected to secure a comfortable victory at the Estadio Azteca.
Our Preview’s Mexico vs. Scotland Predictions & Picks Verdict
The handicap lines from the American online sports betting sites don’t really offer great value. As Scotland are unlikely to pose much of an attacking threat, backing two different outcomes on the ‘correct score’ market looks the best way to go.
- Bet on Mexico to win 1-0 (+450) and also 2-0 (+450), both odds with Bovada.