Well, that’s that. Now that pre-season is all done and dusted, it’s now time to focus our attention on to the first highly anticipated match of the season, the UEFA Super Cup 2017.
In what promises to be a fascinating contest between two of Europe’s most prestigious clubs, Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid will lock horns with Mourinho’s Manchester United on Tuesday at the 33,460-seater Philip II Arena in Skopje, Macedonia.
Both the clubs would look to start their 2017/18 season just the way they ended the last ; by winning a trophy.
Mourinho will be looking to guide an English team to the silverware for the first time since Liverpool emerged victorious in 2005, with United and Chelsea losing 3 times between them since then.
Meanwhile, Zidane’s men will look to kick start their campaign by retaining the Super Cup, having beaten Sevilla last year in the competition, and would hope to carry on from where they left last season.
Super Cup History :
Manchester United : The clash with Real Madrid for the Super Cup 2017 would be United’s 4th attempt to win the silverware , having already won it once way back in 1991 against Red Star Belgrade. Since then, the Reds have been runners-up twice, losing 1-0 to Lazio in 1999 and suffering a 2-1 defeat against Zenit Saint Petersburg in 2008.
Real Madrid : Real Madrid have won it on three occasions, including two of the last three, and been runners-up twice. The Spaniards beat Feyenoord 3-1 in 2002 before overcoming Sevilla 2-0 in Cardiff in 2014 and 3-2 in Trondheim last year, while they lost 1-0 to Chelsea in 1998 and 2-1 to Galatasaray in 2000.
Early Team News :
Manchester United : The Reds will be without suspended defensive duo Eric Bailly( Who had received a red card in United’s Semi final clash against Celta Vigo) and Phil Jones(Banned by UEFA for failing to appear for a dope test when called upon), while summer signings Victor Lindelof, Lukaku and Nemanja Matic are expected to make their official debuts for the club.
Luke Shaw, Ashley Young and Marcos Rojo remain long-term absentees and not expected to make a come back into first team squad any time soon.
Real Madrid : Gareth Bale limped out of Madrid’s training session earlier last Wednesday with an ankle related injury, but Zinedine Zidane has insisted it wasn’t serious and that the Welshman looked “good” afterwards.
New signing Theo Hernandez is expected to make his official debut for the club, possibly as a substitute, so is the case for Dani Ceballos. It isn’t certain if Portugese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo would play in the Super Cup final as he returned for training just few days back after his holiday was extended because of the recently concluded Confederations Cup.
There were strong rumours claiming that the 32 year old would leave the Spanish capital due to tax related issues, but Madrid fans can be at peace, at least for the moment.
Predicted Line up :
Manchester United : Having tried a number of systems during the pre-season tour, it’s more than likely that Mourinho will likely play with a back four if he decides to start all his new signings, with the 4-3-3 advanced attack formation being very likely.
Likely Team : De Gea(Gk), Valencia, Lindelof, Smalling, Darmian, Matic, Herrera, Pogba, Mkhitaryan, Martial, Lukaku.
Real Madrid : It will be interesting to see if Zidane decide to start Cristiano or decide to rest his star forward. The formation he chooses could also depend on Bale’s availability, with a 4-3-3 or a 4-4-2 formation being extremely likely.
Likely Team : Navas(GK), Ramos, Hernandez, Nacho, Carvajal; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Bale, Ronaldo; Benzema .
In a total of 10 official matches between the clubs, Real Madrid emerged victorious on 4 occasions while United has won only 2 out of the 10. The remaining fixtures ended in a draw.
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This fixture would be the first official meeting between the two since Real Madrid knocked out United in the Quarter-final stage of the 2012-13 Champions League which had also marked Cristiano Ronaldo’s first appearance at Old Trafford ever since he made the move to Los Blancos.
Last Meeting :
Manchester United emerged victorious from their previous meeting in the International Champions Cup at the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California.
A couple of weeks ago . Lingard scored right at the end of first half to put United in the lead going into the break before a second half penalty by Casemiro equalised for Madrid.
In an entertaining match that ended in a 1-1 scoreline at the end of full time, United beat Madrid in the penalty shootout with a 1-2 scoreline.
The last time the two juggernauts met in a competitive fixture was back in 2013 when Real Madrid led by current United manager Jose Mourinho knocked United out of the Champions League with a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford in the second leg of the Round of 16 .
On the basis of form over recent times, the odds are generally in favour of the Spanish side to retain the Super Cup this season.
However, a good pre-season workout and the additional quality signings has convinced a few that Mourinho’s men are more than capable of taking up the challenge to Los Blancos and expect the Reds to emerge victorious.
Betting Odds (Via 888 Sport) :
– Real Madrid : 19/20
– Manchester United : 14/5
– Draw : 5/2