Sheriff were founded by KGB members and face biggest ever task vs Real Madrid

They come from country that doesn't officially exist, have a badge that looks something an American police officer might wear on his shirt and tonight face the biggest game in their history against Real Madrid.

Oh, and they were reportedly founded by former members of the KGB.

It might sound like something out of a Hollywood movie, but this is the real life story of Moldovan league champions Sheriff Tiraspol, who will complete a Champions League fairytale at the Bernabeu on Tuesday.

In keeping with a traditional fairytale, Sheriff's journey to the top table hasn't all been sunshine and rainbows, it's had its fair share of murkier goings on too.

Having successfully made their way through four qualifying rounds to become the first Moldovan club to appear in the Champions League group stages, Sheriff struck it lucky when they were drawn against Real, Inter Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk.

There's little doubt that their trip to the Spanish capital this week is the biggest game in the club's history, but there's not much chance they'll be overawed by the occasion.

Despite being tipped to finish bottom of the group, Sheriff opened their Champions League account with 2-0 at home to Shakhtar a fortnight ago, thanks to goals from winger Adama Traore and forward Momo Yansane.

What do you make of Sheriff's rise to the Champions League? Let us know in the comments section.

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Away from the pitch, the club has an unusual background both in terms of its history and its supporters.

While UEFA allow Sheriff into the Champions League as the champions of Moldova and the club dominate the Moldovan league, the team's fans consider themselves not to be Moldovan.

That's because Tiraspol, where the minnows are based, is located in the breakaway state of Transnistria, otherwise known as the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR).

Just by making the group stage of the Champions League this season, Sheriff will bank a minimum of £13.4million in prize money and that's without additional of broadcast revenue.

It's not like they need it, because the club is owned and funded by the Sheriff corporation (hence the name), set up by Viktor Gushan and Ilya Kazmaly, both believed to be former KGB officers.

With outward investment into the region not exactly strong, the Sheriff brand has a monopoly and can be seen in locations around the city.

Even so, the Moldovan minnows still face a herculean task against the might of Real Madrid.

According to transfermarkt, the most expensive XI available to the Spanish giants comes in at an eye-watering £495million.

It features household names including Thibaut Courtois, Eduardo Camavinga and Eden Hazard, the latter of whom cost £103.5million alone.

The same website values Sheriff's most expensive XI at a fraction of the price, coming in at just over £6million.

If they can achieve the unthinkable at the Bernabeu, it would surely go down as one of the most remarkable results in the history of European football.

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