Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Shamrock Rovers ready to welcome Real Madrid and Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo
Paul, Nuala and baby Anna Walsh from Belfast have their photo taken with Real Madrid striker Raul at the Carton House in Dublin.

Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to make his debut for Spanish giants Real Madrid tonight at a pre-season friendly in Ireland.

Cristiano Ronaldo is expected to make his debut for Spanish giants Real Madrid tonight at a pre-season friendly in Ireland.

Almost 11,000 eager soccer fans have snapped up tickets to see the world's most expensive footballer, who transferred from Manchester United in a world record-breaking £80 million (93 million euro) summer signing.

It is hoped the 24-year-old Portuguese star will be in the starting line up against Shamrock Rovers in south Dublin's Tallaght Stadium.

Karim Benzema, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Gabriel Heinze, Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben are also in the Real squad.

Fans have been warned that with capacity at the stadium stretched from the usual 3,000 to give themselves plenty of time to get to and from the ground.

The added temporary seating has also narrowed the playing field.

Ronaldo and his teammates touched down in Dublin last Monday night for a nine-day training camp at Carton House, Co Kildare.

But Rovers' spokesman John Byrne said the sudden worldwide attention on the club has not distracted players from their important League of Ireland games.

On Saturday the Hoops had a comfortable 3-0 over Sligo Town which took them just two points behind leaders Bohemian FC, who they play next weekend.

Mr Byrne said players will enjoy the high profile match and have a bit of fun.

"It is nice for them to pitch themselves out against the top players in the world," he said.

"The manager wants to give everybody a go, so all 22 of them will get about half an hour each.

"Scoring isn't important for this one, it's more the experience."

While Real Madrid spent more than 200 million euro on their new host of new Galacticos this summer, players at Shamrock Rovers were still coming to terms with having a home ground.

The club moved in to Tallaght Stadium in March after being homeless for 22 years.

Hoops fan Tony Berney said he was hoping Real Madrid put its best players out.

"We also want to see our best players put out," he added.

"But it is still only a friendly, next week's game league is very important to us."

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