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Real Madrid to play at Australia's 100,000-seat MCG

MELBOURNE: European champions Real Madrid will headline a pre-season international tournament at Australia’s 100,000-capacity Melbourne Cricket Ground next year, organisers said on Monday.

The glamorous Spanish outfit, featuring Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez among others, will play in the International Champions Cup along with an English Premier League team and Italian Serie A side.

Organisers said the other teams, reported to be Manchester City and Inter Milan, would be revealed in the next few weeks. The tournament will take place from July 18-24.

With the securing of Real Madrid’s huge box-office appeal, organisers are hoping to build on the local appetite for top European clubs after a 95,000 crowd watched English Premier League Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Australia’s Melbourne Victory at the MCG last year.

“We are aware of the large number of Real Madrid fans in Australia and it will be a pleasure to be close to them and give them the best that the club has to offer,” Real coach Carlo Ancelotti said in a statement.

The round-robin tournament in Australia is an offshoot of the main International Champions Cup which is staged in North America and next year will feature eight teams.

Ten-time European champions Real Madrid were named FIFA’s Club of the 20th Century and are worth an estimated 500 million euros ($618 million).

Ronaldo is the current holder of the FIFA Ballon d’Or handed out annually to the world’s best player, while Colombia’s Rodriguez was voted the best player at this year’s World Cup in Brazil. (AFP)

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