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Scramble for dream match as Ronaldo leads Real Madrid out against Shamrock Rovers

By Jason O'Brien

It may come as a surprise, but some Real Madrid employees are professional footballers.

Tonight, after a week of posturing, pampering and photographs at Carton House in Kildare, they will play their first game of a new season, against Shamrock Rovers.

The match at the Tallaght Stadium in Dublin has long been a sell-out, even though the capacity of the ground has been tripled to almost 11,000 in advance of an appearance from the Spanish superstars.

Tickets, with a face value of €60, have been fetching upwards of €120 for the friendly game in recent days.

Most of those in attendance tonight will be hoping to see the world's most-expensive player, Cristiano Ronaldo, make his debut for Madrid following his €94m move from Manchester United.

Highlights of the game are expected to be broadcast all over the world, with representatives from over 50 international media outlets expected at the game.

“I would appeal to fans attending the match between Shamrock Rovers and Real Madrid to allow plenty of time as many spectators will not be familiar with the grounds and surroundings,” Superintendent Eamon Dolan of Tallaght garda station said yesterday.

“Fans should use public transport where possible.

“The stadium is well served with public transport.”

Kick-off is at 8pm, but fans have been urged to be in their seats at least 30 minutes beforehand.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid's technical director and former player, Emilio Butragueno, has indicated that it may return for future training sessions.

“Ireland was chosen for everything it could offer,” he said. “They have had three practice sessions every day. It was the ideal environment to start the pre-season though.

“The place and atmosphere are perfect. It could be the beginning of a very good relationship.”

However, management has yet to confirm how much, if any, of tonight's game Ronaldo will take part in.

He is, nonetheless, the 11/4 favourite to open the scoring. In comparison, the shortest odds on a Rovers player opening the scoring are 12/1 for Gary Twigg.

Overall, Rovers, currently second in the League of Ireland table, are rated as 14/1 longshots to beat their illustrious opponents. Madrid are 1/8 on

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