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Page last updated at 10:49 GMT, Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Chris McLaughlin's La Manga diary - 22 March

International friendly: Scotland v Brazil
Venue: Emirates Stadium, London Date: Sunday 27 March Kick-off: 1400 BST
Coverage: BBC Sport website, BBC Radio Scotland 810MW

The Scotland players leaving Glasgow Airport for La Manga
The Scotland players left for La Manga on Monday

By Chris McLaughlin

I watched the Scotland squad troop through Glasgow Airport with a few of my media colleagues - they were La Manga-bound and so was I, but something was missing.

There was the usual gaggle of shot-hungry photographers jousting for position and bumping into the odd opportunistic autograph hunter.

The Scottish FA backroom team were present and correct with kit bags checked and double-checked before being hauled onto groaning carousel belts. Craig Levein? Check. Players? Check. That was it - the players.

When Scotland fly out to prepare for a friendly, call offs can usually lead to a game of spot the new boy. Not this time.

The manager wants to create a club culture and thinks five days in the sun could be the perfect way to kick on from a morale boosting win over Northern Ireland

Yes, injury has led to a few people pulling out. Darren Fletcher and Steven Naismith perhaps the most high profile, but those heading for gate 28 with passports in hand were regular recognisable faces.

Scotland's best. Scotland's stars. All heading to Spain to prepare for another friendly. Of course it's not just any friendly.

Just ask the 40,000 kilted fans who will pack trains, planes and automobiles next week to invade London. Brazil will be the opponents and anyone with any passion for the game is buying into the excitement.

Leeds United's Barry Bannan, on loan from Aston Villa, told me he's thought of little else since the fixture was announced. Assistant coach Peter Houston was like a kid before Christmas when asked about the match before he boarded the flight. Football players, football coaches and football fans - all genuinely excited at the prospect of competing against, plotting against and willing against the samba stars.

Scotland coach Craig Levein
Levein hopes the five-day gathering will boost team spirit

And so it was then that coach Levein had the rare pleasure of welcoming so many of those he'd named in his squad at Glasgow Airport. It's a double bonus for the Scotland boss. He can field a strong team against one of the world's best sides, but he can also have a week of uninterrupted time with his players.

Levein told BBC Scotland at the weekend that the five-day gathering in Spain before, could be as important as the game itself. He knows that team spirit is vital - especially for a squad lacking superstars.

The manager wants to create a club culture and thinks five days in the sun could be the perfect way to kick on from a morale boosting win over Northern Ireland.

There is one small fly in the ointment though - the sun. The temperature here is more Langside than La Manga. Factor 50? Check - and chucked straight in the bin.



see also
Scotland 0-2 Brazil
27 Mar 11 |  Scotland
Bannan eager to tackle Brazilians
21 Mar 11 |  Scotland
Injury-hit Gordon gets Scots call
17 Mar 11 |  Scotland
No Robinho for Scotland friendly
03 Mar 11 |  Scotland
Scotland confirm Brazil friendly
15 Feb 11 |  Scotland


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