UEFA Super Cup preview: Red Devils set to challenge the reigning champions

Zinedine Zidane's Champions League-winning side take on the Jose Mourinho's Europa League winners in European football's annual curtain-raiser.

Real Madrid and Manchester United will get their seasons under way when they face off in the UEFA Super Cup at Macedonia's Philip II Arena on Tuesday.
Holders Madrid are appearing in the competition for the second year in succession, having successfully defended their Champions League title, and it is their third appearance in the last four seasons. Manchester United, meanwhile, are making their fourth appearance in the Super Cup after winning last season's Europa League.
The two teams have already met this summer, having played a pre-season friendly against each other at the International Champions Cup. That game, which took place in California last month, finished 1-1, but the Red Devils emerged victorious on penalties.

Introduction of UEFA Super Cup

The UEFA Super Cup is an annual competition played between the winners of the Champions League and the winners of the Europa League.
Founded in 1972, the Super Cup was initially contested by the winners of the European Cup (later the Champions League) and the Cup Winners Cup. This format was standard until 1999, when the latter competition was discontinued. From 2000 on, the UEFA Cup (which later became the Europa League) winners provided the opposition.
The format of the Super Cup featured two legs from its inception until 1998, when it was changed to a single match played at a neutral venue. Monaco's iconic Stade Louis II was used as the venue from 1998 to 2012, with UEFA opting to use a variety of stadia since 2013.
Interestingly, the 1972 Super Cup, in which Ajax defeated Rangers, is considered unofficial by UEFA because the Scottish side were banned from UEFA competitions. As a result, the 1973 edition, which saw Ajax beat Inter, is deemed the first official UEFA Super Cup.

Starting XI Predictions

Cristiano Ronaldo returned to Real Madrid training on Saturday after enjoying an extended break due to his involvement in the Confederations Cup with Portugal. There had been speculation that the 32-year-old was seeking an exit from the club, but he looks set to remain in the Spanish capital for the time being, at least.
New signing Theo Hernandez featured for the club during pre-season and could be set to line up alongside Sergio Ramos in defence, while Dani Ceballs, who arrived from Real Betis during the summer, is also vying for a starting position.
Potential Real Madrid XI: Navas; Ramos, Hernandez, Nacho, Carvajal; Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Bale, Ronaldo; Benzema
Manchester United will be without Eric Bailly through suspension, while Phil Jones is also set to miss out after falling foul of UEFA's anit-doping regulations - though the Premier League club are planning to appeal.
Long-term absentees Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo and Ashley Young are not going to be involved in the Super Cup as the trio continue rehabilitation work for the respective injuries, while Sergio Romero and Jesse Lingard are doubts having missed United's final pre-season friendly against Sampdoria.
The game against Real could mark the competitive Man United debuts of new signings Nemanja Matic, Victor Lindelof and Romelu Lukaku, who have all featured in pre-season.
Potential Man United XI: De Gea; Valencia, Lindelof, Smalling, Blind; Matic, Herrera, Pogba, Mkhitaryan; Martial, Lukaku
Having enjoyed quite a successful pre-season Manchester United will look to hit the ground running in 2017-18 by winning some silverware in Macedonia.
The Red Devils struggled to assert themselves domestically last season, finishing a dismal sixth in the Premier League, but they excelled in Europe and Mourinho has slowly but surely put his stamp on the team he inherited from Louis van Gaal in 2016.
As well as winning the Europa League, Mourinho guided United to EFL Cup glory last term and he will attempt to build on the foundations that he laid at Old Trafford during his maiden campaign at the helm.
The additions of Matic, Lindelof and Lukaku bring greater strength to all areas of the pitch and a competitive victory over the Champions League holders in Skopje would send out a real signal of intent to United's rivals ahead of the new season.
While ex-Real boss Mourinho is meeting his old employers, so too is Cristiano Ronaldo, who is hoping to feature against the Red Devils after making a return to training over the weekend.
The Portugal international played no part in the Blancos' pre-season preparations due to his involvement in the Confederations Cup and off-field distractions surrounding allegations of tax faud have intertwined with speculation that the talismanic forward is nearing an exit from the Santiago Bernabeu.
As a result, it will be interesting to see if Ronaldo is handed a starting position by Zidane, who will no doubt be keen to see his star attacker remain at the club.
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Source: All Football

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