Rangers v Real Madrid: The pre-season friendly of a lifetime?

Rangers host Real Madrid in a pre-season friendly that may not be quite a once in a lifetime chance to see the Spanish giants in Glasgow – but certainly one in several generations.

Real Madrid's French forward Karim Benzema. (Photo by PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP via Getty Images)

Less than 20,000 will bear witness to the game owing to coronavirus social distancing requirements on Sunday – a far cry from the 80,000 who watched the only other time El Blancos visited Ibrox in September 1963.

That European Cup tie ended in a narrow win for the visitors, a late goal for Ferenc Puskas edging momentum in the Spanish side’s favour before an emphatic second leg in the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu – 6-0 with a hat-trick for Puskas and goal for Paco Gento among the star-studded scorers.

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Surprisingly, given the regular success and frequency of both clubs’ European competition year-on-year – that two-legged, and one-sided, meeting is the only competitive action between the pair.

Hungarian legend Ferenc Puskas returned to Hampden in 2002 and scored at the National Stadium and Ibrox during his playing career. (Pictrure: SNS)

Madrid don’t visit Scotland all too often, it seems.

When they do though, it’s memorable – just ask anyone at Hampden for the club’s finest performance, 7-3 in the 1960 European Cup Final against Eintracht Frankfurt. They won the 2002 Champions League final in Glasgow too, with Zinedine Zidane scoring a special goal.

Yet Celtic have only faced the famous all-white Spanish side two times – a little more recently than Rangers – in 1980. Kilmarnock also met them twice in 1965 and Aberdeen have a memorably winning record, though not on Scottish soil, with the Cup Winners’ Cup final of 1983.

Which makes Sunday’s friendly to mark Rangers’ 150th anniversary season all the more engaging. The paucity of the meetings between not just Rangers, but Scottish teams in general, with one of the most glamorous names and successful clubs in European football history, makes Sunday’s match one for all the ages, regardless of who Madrid field.

Carlo Ancelotti took over from Zinedine Zidane this summer. (Photo credit should read GERARD JULIEN/AFP via Getty Images)

Other European powerhouses like Juventus, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, AC Milan are held in similarly high regard, but much more frequent and recent visits than El elusive Blancos just add to the allure of Carlo Ancelotti’s opposition.

“In all our focus groups and feedback sessions, Real Madrid consistently came out as the team most fans wanted to see at Ibrox to celebrate 150,” wrote Rangers’ supporters liaison officer Greg Marshall. The match, predictably, is expected to sell out.

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Real Madrid were last in Glasgow in 2002 for the Champions League final vs Bayer Leverkusen. (Picture: SNS Group)

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