‘United are underdogs against Real’
BARCELONA: Jose Mourinho faces off against his former team Real Madrid in the Uefa Super Cup tomorrow, insisting his Manchester United side are underdogs.
Zinedine Zidane’s Madrid earned the right to compete for the cup by defending the Champions League trophy last season, crushing Juventus in the final, while the Red Devils beat Ajax to win the Europa League.
Madrid are aiming for their fourth Super Cup title in their sixth appearance at the Phillip II Arena in Skopje, Macedonia, while Manchester United are looking to add to their solitary triumph in their fourth attempt.
United manager Mourinho left Madrid in 2013 by mutual consent at the end of a tumultuous season in which he fell out with several members of the squad, including Cristiano Ronaldo.
The Portuguese forward has played at the Santiago Bernabeu since 2009 when he moved from Old Trafford, helping Madrid beat United in the Champions League last 16 in 2013.
Although the teams have not met in official competition since then, a rivalry has formed between them off the pitch, with the Red Devils trying to sign Sergio Ramos, while Madrid came close to luring David de Gea to the Spanish capital.
“Our players don’t have a wealth of experience of big European matches,” Mourinho told Uefa.
“This is a new Manchester United, a new generation of players.
“Last season was the Europa League, which was also so important for us in terms of gaining experience, but now we’re returning to the Champions League and to the Uefa Super Cup against the best team in Europe, so it’s a great opportunity.
“I’ve never contested the Uefa Super Cup as the strongest team. It’s the same story this time. I’m taking Manchester United to play against Real Madrid, the Champions League winners. Hopefully this time we can do it.” United have problems in defence with both Phil Jones and Eric Bailly suspended, meaning new signing Victor Lindelof is likely to pair Chris Smalling at the back. Luke Shaw, Ashley Young and Marcos Rojo are long-term absentees.
Madrid, meanwhile, may not field Ronaldo with the striker only starting his preseason training at the weekend after an extended summer break, while Gareth Bale is also a doubt following a minor ankle injury in training.
Zidane’s side beat Sevilla last August in the competition and can become the first team to retain the Super Cup since AC Milan won it in 1989 and 1990.