Ronaldo in Madrid squad for Man United re­union

Real coach Zi­dane un­likely to in­clude the Por­tuguese star in play­ing XI

Muscat Daily - - FRONT PAGE -

Cris­tiano Ronaldo could fea­ture against his former club Manch­ester United in UEFA Su­per Cup af­ter be­ing in­cluded in the squad

Real Madrid is a team, a club, an in­sti­tu­tion that has hunger

Zine­dine Zi­dane

Madrid, Spain - Cris­tiano Ronaldo could fea­ture against his former club Manch­ester United in Tues­day's UEFA Su­per Cup af­ter be­ing in­cluded in Real Madrid boss Zine­dine Zi­dane's squad for the trip to Skopje, Mace­do­nia. The match kicks off at 10.45pm.

Ronaldo's sum­mer has been over­shad­owed by ac­cu­sa­tions of tax eva­sion in Spain, which led to him be­ing ap­pear­ing in court last week, and spec­u­la­tion over his fu­ture.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port from Span­ish ra­dio sta­tion Cadena Ser, Ronaldo told the court he "would like to re­turn to Eng­land" due to his tax trou­bles in Spain.

The World Player of the Year only re­turned to train­ing with his Real team­mates on Sat­ur­day as he was handed an ex­tended sum­mer break af­ter play­ing for Por­tu­gal at the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup and is still not ex­pected to start.

How­ever, as is com­mon for show­piece oc­ca­sions, Zi­dane has de­cided to take his en­tire 24-man squad to Mace­do­nia.

It would be a ma­jor sur­prise if Zi­dane was to in­clude the 32 year old against his former club in the match at the Philip II Arena in the Mace­do­nian cap­i­tal.

"He needed to rest. He has had his hol­i­days and that was im­por­tant," said Zi­dane of the man whose two goals helped pro­pel Madrid to a 4-1 vic­tory over Ju­ven­tus in the Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal in Cardiff two months ago. That vic­tory saw Real be­come the first club to re­tain the tro­phy in the Cham­pi­ons League era and com­pleted a glo­ri­ous cam­paign in which it also won Span­ish League.

The sea­son started with a 3-2 ex­tra-time tri­umph against Sevilla in the Su­per Cup in the Nor­we­gian city of Trond­heim.

"Real Madrid is a team, a club, an in­sti­tu­tion that has hunger. We all know where we are and when you fin­ish a sea­son like last year win­ning, it helps you try to do the same thing com­ing into the new sea­son," Zi­dane - whose team has Barcelona to come at the week­end in the Span­ish Su­per Cup - told UEFA.com.

How­ever, his side failed to record a vic­tory dur­ing a pre-sea­son tour of the US that in­cluded a high-pro­file friendly en­counter with

Jose Mour­inho's

United in Santa

Clara, Cal­i­for­nia.

That In­ter­na­tional Cham­pi­ons Cup en­counter ended in a 1-1 draw be­fore United won on penal­ties.

While the Spa­niards have made two rel­a­tively low-key sum­mer sign­ings in Dani Ce­bal­los from Betis and Theo Her­nan­dez from Atletico Madrid, United has spent big ahead of its re­turn to the Cham­pi­ons League.

The Europa League win­ner has added the de­fender Vic­tor Lin­de­lof from Ben­fica, the mid­fielder Ne­manja Matic from Chelsea and Ever­ton striker Romelu Lukaku and it wrapped up its prepa­ra­tions with a 2-1 win over Sam­p­do­ria in Dublin.

Mour­inho plays down re­union

This match of­fers a chance for United to start the new cam­paign on a high be­fore its open­ing English Premier League game against West Ham United next Sun­day. In a glit­ter­ing ca­reer Mour­inho has not yet won the Su­per Cup - his Chelsea team lost on penal­ties to Bay­ern Mu­nich in the 2013 edi­tion.

The Por­tuguese is com­ing up against the club he coached for three years un­til 2013 - he did not leave the Span­ish cap­i­tal on the best of terms but he in­sisted that ex­pe­ri­ence is not on his mind this week. "It's some­thing I've been through many times. I left Porto and two months later I was fac­ing it in the Cham­pi­ons League," he told UEFA.com.

"I left Chelsea and a few months later I was fac­ing it with Manch­ester United. I never look at it in terms of tak­ing on my former club, not at all. So I just look at Real Madrid as what it is: a big club, the Euro­pean cham­pion, and it's a great mo­ti­va­tion for us to play against it."

This an­nual meet­ing of the Euro­pean cham­pion and Europa League win­ner is in con­trast to the cool con­di­tions in Nor­way 12 months ago, tem­per­a­tures in Skopje are ex­pected to reach 40°C for much of the week.

Cris­tiano Ronaldo

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