Real Madrid and Manchester United will duel for European supremacy in tonight’s UEFA Super Cup clash at the Philip II Arena in Skopje, Macedonia, on the back of two contrasting pre-season campaigns.
While UEFA Champions League winners Real have failed to seal a pre-season victory in 90 minutes, UEFA Europa League victors United have won all but one of their friendlies—a 1-0 loss to Barcelona at FedEx Field in Maryland.
The Red Devils also have an advantage in morale over Los Blancos after they defeated the Spanish titans on penalties at Levi’s Stadium in California last month, having drawn 1-1 in normal time.
Real manager Zinedine Zidane will know the absences of stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos hurt his side in pre-season, but their Super Cup chances are boosted by the recent return of the talismanic duo.
Zidane’s Real are bigger than any one player, but Ronaldo’s omission from the club’s pre-season schedule hasn’t helped their preparations for the 2017-18 season, as results have shown.
The Portugal international was given until August 5 to enjoy his summer break but returned to train in Madrid early, per Sergio Santos Chozas of AS, and the 32-year-old posted proof of his fitness via his official Instagram account.
The forward is one face United boss Jose Mourinho may prefer he didn’t encounter upon reuniting with former club Real, and Pablo Polo of Marca reported star defender Ramos is also in line to feature.
Neither team will want to pick up new injuries this close to the beginning of the 2017-18 campaign, but both Zidane and Mourinho know that a trophy at this stage of the year is also a major boost in morale.
Meanwhile, UEFA are ready to allow water breaks to combat the searing temperatures during the match in Macedonia. The organisers have made provisions to help players from both sides cope with the hot weather during the game.
And they will arrange a pause on 30 and 60 minutes during the match for players to re-hydrate – if temperatures reach 32 degrees at kick-off time.
As things stand the forecast is that it will be slightly below that when the teams take to the field at the Philip II National Arena – with storms also forecast.