On Friday, Real Madrid takes on Manchester City at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), in what many are hoping will be a drama-filled match that sets us all up for the football season ahead. Take a look at which way we think you should be betting, and our guide to why you should take pre-season seriously when it comes to betting on football.
Manchester City caught many by surprise with the signing of Raheem Sterling, the 20 year-old moving from Liverpool for a record £49m for a British footballer. The jury is still out on whether he is the complete player or not, and how great he can become - he lacks the ability to score prolifically as the greats of the game can, and his passing is sometimes off - but Sterling is undoubtedly a good prospect for the future.
In its previous International Champions Cup match against Roma, City did not look fully tuned-up for the Premier League season ahead - however, the team would not be expected to be, given that pre-season is about getting players together, thinking on the same wavelength and understanding each other once again. A penalty shoot-out victory over the Serie A team presented a number of seemingly-undercooked players.
It is also a good chance for managers to assess which players are hungry to improve, which look fittest and strongest, and make calls on who should be in the squad for the league season approaching. Truly, there is no such thing as a "meaningless" friendly match, especially between City, a team that has pretensions towards winning major European trophies in the future, and a true European giant in Real Madrid.
Real may have won the European Cup a record ten times, but this summer it is a club in sharp transition. Club president Florentino Perez made the harsh decision to sack head coach Carlo Ancelotti after last season passed without a trophy, and with La Liga having been won by Barcelona seemingly against the odds.
New head coach Rafa Benitez has a different philosophy to his predecessor, and also has experience of having won the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005, as part of a collection of career accolades. However, after his reign at Inter, following the departure of Jose Mourinho, only lasted a matter of months, Benitez will be only too aware of the need to put on a great show in from of Real's huge global following.
Thus far, Real's biggest signing has been Brazil international right-back Danilo from Porto for a fee of €31.5m. This would be a big fee for any other club, but Real expects more - and will likely get it. The problem in making comparisions between the side that will likely feature against City and that which will play in La Liga is that there are still deals to be done.
Goalkeeper David de Gea is likely to join from Manchester United before the closure of the transfer window, with the ostracised defender Sergio Ramos moving the other way. Sergio Ramos would probably view his situation at the club as untenable at the moment, after he was accused, wrongly, he says, of agitating for a move to Barcelona. It would seem that many people at Real are unsettled at the moment, and so this team is incomplete.
Ok, So Why Should We Bet on This, and How?
Let's be frank: after that preview, you're probably wondering if it's worth betting on this pre-season match, where the result doesn't impinge on the regular season and both teams will be playing people who, in some cases, might be on the fringes come the regular league season.
But that doesn't mean there aren't great reasons to bet.
[*]You get a chance to tune up your betting before the start of the European football leagues, with two teams you will likely be watching and betting on from August, and a whole bunch of players who you should be getting familiar with.
[*]As such, you can practice different kinds of bets. Try your hand at a few markets, spreading your deposit to mitigate the risk. Don't just go for the low usual bets, see how some others work out. Pre-season is the time when you assess what works for you as a bettor, so that you won't lose deposits in the regular season.
[*]You get an opportunity to see how Manchester City and Real Madrid like to play - which players are usually central to attacks, which side is better defensively - you can build up knowledge while other football bettors might not have their eye on the ball.
So, that all said, here are some bets you can try while watching Manchester City against Real Madrid.
9/2 with BetVictor for a half-time/full-time result of draw/Real Madrid.
5/2 with Bet365 for Sterling to score again, anytime.
28/17 with bwin for a bet on there being over 3.75 goals - pre-season friendlies usually contain a lot of scoring.