A look back at eight weird and wonderful pre-season friendlies, including Bournemouth vs Real Madrid

In a matter of days, Premier League and EFL clubs will kick-off their preparations for the 2022/23 campaign. Here, we take a look at eight strange pre-season fixtures from the last 16 years.

While friendlies may not be everyone's cup of tea, this time of the year offers an opportunity to see fixtures which would never materialise in competitive football.

Over the years, there have been incredible mismatches, thrashings and almighty shocks.

Here, we take a closer look at eight absurd encounters from the past.

Plymouth 0-1 Real Madrid (2006)

Back in 2006, Plymouth hit the jackpot after accidentally striking a deal with Real Madrid for a pre-season fixture.

Los Blancos had left their pre-season preparations until the very last minute, only to discover that their favourite Austrian venue was booked out by another club - Plymouth Argyle.

After some deliberation, Ian Holloway's side agreed to move elsewhere, but to his surprise, Fabio Capello's side did agree to play one match as a token of gratitude.

Incredibly, Plymouth held their own and only lost 1-0 following a controversial penalty which was converted by Julio Baptista. Question is, when are we going to get a rematch?

Hibernian 0-6 Barcelona (2008)

In 2007, Scottish Premiership side Hearts organised a pre-season friendly with FC Barcelona at Murrayfield. Over 57,000 turned out as the Scottish side fell to a respectable 3-1 defeat.

A year later, Hearts' arch rivals Hibernian didn't want to be outdone, so they too organised a pre-season clash against the Catalan giants.

On this occasion, the match proved less of an exhibition and more of an execution as Lionel Messi's men orchestrated a 6-0 demolition.

Histon 1-8 Real Sociedad (2013)

Histon's preparations for the 2013/14 Conference North season saw them take on some big names in pre-season, including Brentford, Colchester United, Braintree Town and Luton Town. Sensationally, Real Sociedad also joined that list.

Having booked their place in the Champions League, Sociedad were looking to test themselves during pre-season and organised a friendly against Tottenham Hotspur.

Unfortunately for the Spaniards, Spurs pulled out at the last minute, leaving the visitors without an opponent. However, Tottenham's loss turned out to be Histon's gain after receiving an invitation to take on the La Liga outfit.

Due to the quick organisational turnaround, the match had to be played behind closed doors. Despite an eventual 8-1 defeat, it proved to be an unforgettable occasion for the English club, and for Omar Beckles who scored Histon's sole effort.

Walsall 2-0 Ajax (2018)

Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag was in charge of Ajax when the team fell to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of League One's Walsall.

The Dutch giants fielded a young team with an average age of 20 as Walsall's summer signing Andy Cook scored a brace to seal a historic win.

Considering what happened next, the game could go down as one of the most misleading pre-season results ever. Ajax went on to win the league/cup double and also reached the Champions League semi-final.

As for Walsall, they were relegated to League Two.

Bournemouth 0-6 Real Madrid (2013)

Bournemouth were hoping to celebrate promotion to the Championship with a top-notch pre-season friendly.

Real Madrid answered the call and understandably, many expected Carlo Ancelotti to arrive with his third choice starting line-up. That wasn't the case.

The 12,000 sold-out crowd at the Goldsands Stadium certainly got their £60 worth as Cristiano Ronaldo, Sami Khedira, Gonzalo Higuain, Angel Di Maria, Casemiro, Isco and a host of other notable names took to the field.

The final result was 6-0, with Ronaldo grabbing a first-half brace. Interestingly, CR7 will return to the south coast this season with Manchester United following the Cherries' promotion. With the way things are going at United though, don't be surprised if that result is flipped on its head.

ATV Irding 0-22 Everton (2018)

Austrian fifth-tier club ATV Irding were hoping to celebrate their 60th anniversary by taking on a global powerhouse.

Everton was as close to a powerhouse they got, but their special anniversary match descended into embarrassment as the Toffees showed no mercy and ran out 22-0 winners.

Nevertheless, every story has a silver lining, and for ATV Irding that was an influx of playing requests from international footballers.

Accrington Stanley 2-1 Marseille (2019)

Marseille? Who are they? They're only the 10-time French champions, 10-time Coupe de France winners and 1993 Champions League conquerors.

Nevertheless, their storied history was no match for League One's Accrington Stanley who enjoyed a historic 2-1 pre-season win.

The match, which was played in a rugby ground, saw the French outfit make 10 half-time changes. Those proved to be fruitless, as a sole goal from 2018 World Cup winner Florian Thauvin couldn't inspire a late comeback.

Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 Pontypridd Town (2015)

What do a La Liga giant, a Welsh League Division Three club and Olympic gold medallist Darren Campbell have in common? Putting on wild pre-season fixtures by the looks of things.

Thanks to the contacts of brothers Damien and Dominic Broad - Pontypridd's manager and assistant manager - the small Welsh club managed to organise a friendly with Spanish giants Valencia in 2014.

Ahead of the game, one member of staff from Deportivo reached out to wish the team good luck. The Welsh outfit responded by sending out a challenge, saying that if they kept the score below 10-0, they should organise a fixture with La Coruna the following year.

Incredibly, the Welsh club only lost 3-0 and their Deportivo dream came true.

Olympian Darren Campbell helped with pre-match preparations, and the Welsh League Division Three outfit produced another valiant effort in a 4-0 defeat.

READ MORE: Every Dutch manager in the Premier League ranked ahead of Erik ten Hag's Man Utd mission

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