Super Cup clash vs Real a good barometer of Man United’s level

Match facts

Venue: Philip II Arena, Skopje
Date and time: August 8; 18:45 GMT, 19:45 BST and 00:15 IST (August 9)
TV channel: Sony Ten 2 (India)


Jose Mourinho said during Manchester United’s pre-season summer tour of America, that his team were not at Real Madrid or Barcelona’s level. And the Portuguese manager’s assessment is a fair one. But ahead of an all-important season for the most successful Premier League club, the UEFA Super Cup clash may just be what Mourinho’s men need, to not only know the level where they belong but also take a lot of confidence—should they win—into the upcoming season starting this Sunday, at home against West Ham United.

While this match might be seen and treated as another friendly or curtain raiser, a clash against the European champions presents last season’s UEFA Europa League winners an ideal opportunity to make a statement and sound out a title warning to the Chelseas, Manchester Citys, Liverpools, and Tottenham Hotspurs. For, that’s how good a side the Los Blancos are and a victory against them, on any day, cannot be taken lightly.

United have secured three major signings—Victor Lindelof, Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic—during this transfer window so far and the general consensus is that Mourinho has built a team who are capable of winning silverware. They enjoyed a good workout in the US, with very few downsides emerging from a pre-season tour in which they played Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Real’s season begins in a week’s time and they are likely to enter the upcoming season with pretty much the same squad from last season. Their only new additions are Dani Ceballos (from Real Betis) and Theo Hernandez (from Atletico Madrid). But their squad is arguably the best already, with many a match-winner and world class player from back to front. Which is the reason why United will draw a great level of satisfaction and confidence if they beat Zinedine Zidane’s men.

Manchester United vs Real Madrid head-to-head

These two giants of football haven’t met each other since 2013, when they played a pulsating UEFA Champions League R-16 encounter which was won 3-2 by Real on aggregate. Mourinho, incidentally, was the manager of the Madrid club, who beat Alex Ferguson’s side.

This will only be the second time since moving to Santiago Bernabeu, that Cristiano Ronaldo potentially plays against the side he won the Champions League with in 2008.

This is Real Madrid’s sixth appearance in the UEFA Super Cup, which they have won thrice. Manchester United have won this one-off match once and lost twice.

Real Madrid vs Manchester United starting XI, Super Cup line-ups

Ronaldo began pre-season training only last weekend and has been included in Real’s UEFA Super Cup squad. Their starting XI tomorrow night might not be a lot different from the 4-1 victory over Juventus in May.

Real’s likely Starting XIReal Madrid starting XI vs Manchester United

For United, Eric Bailly and Phil Jones are unavailable for tomorrow’s Skopje showpiece due to suspensions. Bailly picked up a red card during his team’s UEFA Europa League semi-final second leg clash against Celta Vigo in May and will be serving the last of his three-match suspension, while Phil Jones is serving a two-match suspension for abusing a UEFA doping officer after the Final in May.

Ashley Young, Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo are injured and hence unavailable.

Manchester United starting line-up against Real MadridManchester United - Football tactics and formations

You can expect a good contest between two equally brawn teams. But I just have a feeling that Real, with their incisive attackers, might edge Manchester United and win their fourth UEFA Super Cup. What will also be interesting to see is how United’s defence cope in Bailly’s absence and against the “BBC”.

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