Macedonia may not be the most glamorous of destinations but it will play host to the most glamorous of UEFA competitions as it hosts the Super Cup tie between the Champions League winners, Real Madrid, and the Europa League winners, Manchester United. The two will come face to face on Tuesday night with the first trophy of the season at stake for both clubs.
The two sides have already met this pre-season, with United running out victors after a penalty shoot-out in which only three out of ten shots were scored. Zinedine Zidane’s side have had a woeful pre-season in terms of results, falling to defeat to Manchester City and Barcelona and only beating an MLS All Star team on penalties.
United, on the other hand, have been beaten just once. Barcelona ran out the victors with a 1-0 win in that game, but Jose Mourinho has recorded wins over the likes of Manchester City, Valerenga, Sampdoria, LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake, as well as the penalty shoot-out win over Madrid.
Real Madrid are likely to field the same starting line-up that began the friendly against Barcelona only a few weeks ago. If fit, Gareth Bale will start but the Welshman is a doubt and Isco looks set to step in. Marco Asensio will deputise for Cristiano Ronaldo on the left flank.
Manchester United face a defensive headache with Phil Jones and Eric Bailly suspended, giving an opportunity to Chris Smalling and Daley Blind. Positions are up for grabs in attack, but Jose Mourinho is likely to be more conservative and go with Juan Mata over Anthony Martial.
Gareth Bale is a doubt having limped out of training last week, but boss Zinedine Zidane insisted that it was merely a precaution and he should be fit to feature. This game is likely to have come too soon for Cristiano Ronaldo, who only joined the squad for training last week after an extended summer break.
Eric Bailly and Phil Jones will both serve suspensions. Nemanja Matic will be hoping to start having done so against Sampdoria only a few days ago, but that was his first 45 minutes of game time since May so he may need to build his fitness before starting. Luke Shaw remains out of action until early September, with Ashley Young expected back in October and Marcos Rojo a long term absentee.
Score prediction: Real Madrid 2-1 Manchester United AET.
It’ll be tight, that’s for sure. Real Madrid are yet to get firing on all cylinders, particularly without Cristiano Ronaldo. That said, their quality should still shine through and earn them the win to retain their title.