Real Madrid will officially begin their preparations for the 2021-22 campaign with a glamorous friendly against Scottish champions Rangers at Ibrox on Sunday night.
Los Blancos played out a 1-1 draw with Rayo Vallecano in a training match last weekend, while Rangers have taken part in three pre-season fixtures this summer, including a 2-2 draw with Arsenal.
Rangers who have Joe Aribo, Leon Balogun and Calvin Bassey on their books opened preparations for the new season with a 1-0 win over Patrick Thistle on July 5 before suffering a 1-0 loss to Tranmere Rovers five days later.
The Gers then played out a 2-2 draw with Arsenal on July 17, with Leon Balogun and Cedric Itten on the scoresheet for Steven Gerrard’s side, who twice lead against the Premier League giants.
Rangers are set to play twice in the space of 24 hours, as they will take on Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday evening ahead of their clash with Real Madrid, meaning that Gerrard will shuffle his pack to ensure that every player in the squad is able to get minutes in their legs.
Gerrard’s team, who saw a recent friendly with Blackpool called off due to coronavirus cases in the English side’s squad, are building towards their Scottish Premiership opener against Livingston on July 31.
Rangers have only previously hosted Real Madrid on one occasion, which came in the first round of the European Cup back in 1963, and the fact that the Scottish giants start their league season just six days after this contest means that it is a vital fixture for a number of reasons.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, are in the very early stages of their preparations for the 2021-22 campaign, and the clash with Rangers will be their first confirmed friendly of the summer.
Los Blancos did take on Rayo Vallecano in a training match last weekend, with the two sides playing out a 1-1 draw, but returning head coach Carlo Ancelotti will be looking to get more out of this contest.
Real Madrid are also due to take on AC Milan in a glamour friendly on August 8, and the Spanish club’s return to competitive action is just around the corner, as they prepare to open their 2021-22 La Liga campaign with a trip to Alaves on August 14.
Ancelotti is still without a number of important players due to the Copa America and Euro 2020, and it has been claimed that a largely youthful side will take to the field for this weekend’s contest.
David Alaba is the club’s only summer arrival thus far, and the Austria international has been training with his new team this week, although his involvement in this contest is far from guaranteed.
Rangers will not be facing a full-strength Real Madrid on Sunday, but the Scottish giants will still be desperate to pick up a positive result, so Gerrard is expected to select a strong starting XI with Aribo, Balogun and Bassey expected to play.
Gerrard is still unable to call upon Alfredo Morelos, though, as the striker is absent due to his involvement in the Copa America for Colombia.
As for Madrid, Nacho, Marcelo, Isco, Alvaro Odriozola, Martin Odegaard and Lucas Vazquez all started the training match with Rayo last time out and could potentially be involved.
Rodrygo Goes and Luka Jovic are making progress in their injury recoveries, but Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy are still absent, while Karim Benzema has tested positive for coronavirus.
Gareth Bale returned to pre-season training with Real Madrid on Friday, but it is unclear whether the Wales international will be involved, while the same can also be said for Toni Kroos.
Raphael Varane also reported for duty on Friday, but it is understood that the centre-back, who continues to be linked with Manchester United, underwent a medical examination and did not actually train with the first team, meaning that he will not be involved this weekend.