By Mark Weasley
Manchester United and Real Madrid are in Skopje, Macedonia for the European Super Cup which is the match played between winners of the European competitions for the previous season. Real Madrid won the Champions League in Cardiff in May courtesy of a 4-1 thumping of Juventus, while Manchester United won the Europa League courtesy of a 2-0 win over Ajax in the Europa League final.
Former Real Madrid boss, Jose Mourinho is already stoking the fire. He has been talking about Gareth Bale, who is seemingly not in the best form at the Santiago Bernabeu, but Real boss, Zinedine Zidane is not being drawn into Jose’s mind games.
Both teams met in the International Champions Cup last month in the USA, a match which ended 1-1, with David de Gea the hero in a comical penalty shootout. We take a look at United’s predicted line up for the match, but Phil Jones and Eric Bailly won’t play as they are currently serving suspensions.
David de Gea has yet another platform to impress as he has been linked to the European champions for the past three summers. However, he is highly regarded by Jose Mourinho, and would be in goal in the sweltering conditions in Skopje.
With Jones and Bailly out of this clash, new signing, Victor Lindelof has the chance to impress his manager and stake a claim for first team football. The 22-year-old Swede has looked shaky in pre-season and should be partnered by Chris Smalling, the England international whose stay at Old Trafford is still in doubt.
At left back, Matteo Darmian could be picked as his defensive solidity is key against Madrid’s attacking juggernaut, while on the right side of defence, Antonio Valancia has a big night to keep Cristiano Ronaldo quiet.
The signing of Nemanja Matic has galvanized the United midfield as his presence and ability to screen the defence is one of the best in world football. He should slot into the base of midfield while a little further up on his right, should be Ander Herrera. The Spaniard has grown in leaps and bounds in the last 12 months under Jose Mourinho while on his left, Paul Pogba will be key. The world record signing struggled to impose himself on the Premier League last season but the signing of Matic is key to unlocking his attacking potential, and he has the chance to prove himself against perhaps the best team in Europe at the moment.
Juan Mata is fit after a knock and should start from the left. The Spanish international has added defensive responsibility to his game while on the right, Henrikh Mkhitaryan should start. Upfront, Romelu Lukaku will make his competitive debut after impressing in pre-season.
Predicted lineup: De Gea, Valencia, Smalling, Bailly, Darmian, Matic, Pogba, Herrera, Mata, Mkhitaryan, Lukaku.