Manchester United will have a chance to claim their first ever UEFA Super Cup as they take on Champions League winners Real Madrid in Macedonia on Tuesday night.
Past efforts in 1999 and 2008 saw United lose to Lazio and Zenit Saint Petersburg respectively, but this time they will be underdogs against Zinedine Zidane’s double winning side of last season, which may play into the hands of Jose Mourinho – a man who thrives with his back against a wall.
He confirmed at a press conference on Monday that both Eric Bailly and Phil Jones will be suspended for the clash in Skopje, with the latter losing an appeal against a two game ban for verbally abusing UEFA doping officials following the Europa League final.
This means that United’s defensive pair with comprise of Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof, who have both struggled to offer much assurance over pre-season. They cannot afford any kind of flimsiness against the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Luka Modric and Isco. But how will Mourinho line-up in full? Here is our predicted XI.
Going up against the European champions and unequivocally the best club side in the world serves as the perfect litmus test for Mourinho’s men as they prepare for their return to Champions League this season.
Romelu Lukaku will want to avenge the demons of his last Super Cup experience back in 2013, which saw the Belgian miss the crucial spot-kick in a penalty shoot-out against Bayern Munich for Chelsea. He was loaned out to Everton just two days later. There will be no better time to show the watching world that, this time around, he is ready to take the European stage by storm.
But all eyes will be focused to see just how effective a midfield trio of Pogba, Herrera and Matic can be. The latter has only been a United player for a week but supporters, following his stellar display against Sampdoria last week, will expect the Serbian to once again plug the midfield gaps as Herrera and Pogba look to dictate the tempo in what promises to be a scorching evening in Macedonia.