Real Madrid 'honoured' to play at iconic MCG, says Bale
One of the biggest stadiums in the Southern Hemisphere and the venue for the 1956 Olympic Games and the 2006 Commonwealth Games, the 'G' - as it is affectionately known by locals - also hosted football matches at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Countless memorable cricket, Australian Rules football and rugby matches, not to mention non-sporting events, have taken place at the cavernous arena.
And while Madrid's 0-0 draw with Roma in the pre-season International Champions Cup on Saturday night won't feature anywhere in a countdown of the best contests to take place at the MCG, Bale was nevertheless delighted to follow in the footsteps of innumerable sporting greats by gracing the hallowed turf.
"It's an amazing stadium that has held amazing events in the past," he said. "To be able to say we've played at that stadium is an honour for everyone. It was great to experience it."
Los Blancos are back there again on Friday night for a meeting with Manchester City. The Liga heavyweights have been put through their paces at the MCG itself, the much smaller AAMI Park and Melbourne City's gleaming new training base during their time in the Victorian capital.
Real Madrid players Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos and Karim Benzema surprise junior Melbourne footballers at local ACE & X tournament.
Speaking at a promotional event on Sunday, Bale, who was deployed by new head coach Rafael Benitez in a central playmaking role in the first half against Roma, claimed it has been business as usual so far under the former Liverpool, Valencia and Napoli boss.
"We're working on our fitness, it's pre-season obviously," he said.
"Normal routine for us. (We're) looking forward to the game (against City)."
Over 10,000 supporters braved the rain and winter chill to watch Madrid practice at an open training session on Friday, before 80,000 attended the match itself against the Serie A side.
Such fanatical devotion should come as no surprise to regular observers of the 10-time European Cup winners, but was still warmly received by Germany international Toni Kroos.
"It's to see that we have fans around the world and also here," he said.
"It's always good to travel with Real Madrid because everybody knows us and everybody has fun when we arrive. Like Gareth said, it's a pleasure to be here."