Shamrock Rovers v Real Madrid, pre-season friendly, July 20, 2009
10,00 lucky Irishmen will cram into Dubinâ€™s Tallaght Park tonight as local minnows Shamrock Rovers will provide the first test against the new and improved Real Madrid side, complete with over Â£170 million worth of new talent in the form of World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and Karim Benzema.
Suddenly the whole world is focused on tiny Shamrock Rovers and wondering if Michael O’Neill’s side can pull off a major upset. However the Northern Irish manager is doing his best to play down any expectations of a home win, rather looking to temper the hype surrounding the glamour fixture.
O’Neill: “Look, it doesnâ€™t have any value from a football point of view. Itâ€™s not going to affect us as a football team or tell us anything we donâ€™t know but itâ€™s important for Tallaght and the club as a whole… for Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght. Itâ€™s a reward for some of the people who have worked so hard to get things to this stage and itâ€™s a bit of a reward for the effort the players have put in to get to play some of the best players in the world.”
As a betting opportunity the game should be a non-event as Shamrock should have no chance of competing with the might of Real.
That said, for Manuel Pellegrini there will undoubtedly be some level of tension – at least until the first goal goes in – as the Chilean starts the daunting task of making sure all the pieces of the sporting worldâ€™s most expensive jigsaw puzzle fit together.
Several players will be absent for selection for Los Blancos. Kaka, Sergio Ramos, Iker Casillas and Raul Albiol are all still absent after playing at the Confederations Cup while Ruud van Nistelrooy (7/2 to score first) and Mahamadou Diarra, both recovering from serious knee injuries, are doubts for inclusion.
As is typical in these occasions, Real are expected to make wholesale changes to their line-up during the match.
101predicts: Shamrock Rovers 0 – Real Madrid 3 (6/1)
Full match odds here.