‘United are un­der­dogs against Real’

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT -

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.

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