Mourinho, Man United have something to prove vs. Real Madrid in Super Cup
Manchester United and Real Madrid do battle for the prestigious UEFA Super Cup on Tuesday in the unlikely setting of Skopje, Macedonia. A sellout crowd will watch the Champions League and Europa League winners go head-to-head, with the first major piece of European silverware of the 2017-18 season up for grabs.
The Red Devils have enjoyed a decent preseason, having lost just once in seven outings. They played out a 1-1 draw with Los Blancos in the U.S. earlier this summer before prevailing on penalties in the searing heat of California. That was Real Madrid's first game of the new season, though, so expect them to be that much sharper in the Balkans.
United will be without defensive duo Phil Jones and Eric Bailly (suspended), while Luke Shaw and Marcos Roja are also missing through injury. Summer signings Victor Lindelof, Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic should all feature, however, as Jose Mourinho looks to strike a blow against his former club. The Spanish giants may not be at full strength, either, given that Gareth Bale has been struggling with an ankle problem during preseason. There are also question marks surrounding the participation of former United idol Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been given additional time off after playing in the Confederations Cup for Portugal.
Real Madrid are a 10/11 chance in the betting with bet365 while Mourinho's men can be backed at 14/5, and the Red Devils will surely be looking to make a statement here.
United last won the Super Cup way back in 1991 when a Brian McClair strike was enough to see them past Red Star Belgrade. Madrid, meanwhile, have won two of the past three.
Last season was a cracker for Zinedine Zidane's Madrid, who ended five years of La Liga hurt to claim the Spanish title while also become the first team in history to retain the Champions League. James Rodriguez, Pepe and Alvaro Morata have all left the Bernabeu, with Zidane seemingly putting more faith in youth this season. Dani Ceballos and Theo Hernandez have been acquired, while top prospect Marcos Llorente has been recalled to his parent club, presumably with the promise of more first-team involvement.
The arrival of Lukaku has certainly given United a boost, and one of their main issues last season was an inability to turn possession and chances into goals. The Belgian powerhouse is proven at the Premier League level and aided by the likes of Marcus Rashford and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who should help United find the net with more regularity this season. Man United are 7/2 with bet365 to score in both halves on Tuesday, and that looks a tasty price against a Madrid side who are prone to the occasional lapse at the back.
English clubs have traditionally not fared well in this UEFA showpiece, with Liverpool the last winners back in 2005. However, United have the players and the motivation to give Madrid a real argument here, and the 11/2 bet365 are offering for a United win and both teams finding the net looks big given this could be a free-scoring affair.