Real Madrid vs Man Utd: UEFA Super Cup Final Preview - Last Encounter, Key Men, Team News & More
Real Madrid and Manchester United will go head-to-head in Macedonia on Tuesday evening to contest the UEFA Super Cup final in Skopje's Filip II Arena.
Despite Red Devils' midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan stating that the Europa League winners' priority was success in the Premier League, the traditional face off between the holders of Europe's biggest cup competitions is hardly going to be a dead rubber.
A win for United especially would provide a huge morale boost before the return of English top-flight football.
While the two teams have never met in the Super Cup, they have met 10 times in the European Cup/Champions League, with the most recent being Los Blancos' victory at Old Trafford in 2013 in the Champions League Round of 16.
The two sides entered the game after goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Danny Welbeck had forced a draw at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg.
A stroke of luck ensured that United took the lead, with Madrid defender Sergio Ramos diverting into his own net just after halftime. However, a straight red card for Nani after a reckless high challenge saw the momentum swing and goals from Luka Modrić and Ronaldo in the space of three minutes saw the Spanish giants advance to the Quarter finals.
After scoring just 54 times in the Premier League last season and the departure of Zlatan Ibrahimović leaving a gap in the Europa League holders' front line, new signing Romelu Lukaku will be expected to bring some much-needed fire power to the Old Trafford side.
With star men Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale lacking match fitness after injuries in pre-season, much will be expected of French striker Karim Benzema to lead the line for the Spanish champions.
A player who is often shadowed by his teammates, the former Lyon man still netted 19 times last season.
Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane may risk starting Ronaldo despite a season opener against Barcelona five days later.
Last season's breakthrough players Marco Asensio and Lucas Vásquez are expected to compete from the bench, while striker Borja Mayoral could feature after returning from a season-long loan at Wolfsburg. Star players Ramos, Marcelo, Modrić and Toni Kroos will play.
After playing in a friendly win against Sampdoria last Wednesday, new signing Nemanja Matić should be in contention to make his United debut in Macedonia.
The Red Devils are also expected to start in a 3-5-2 formation, which would mean starts for Antonio Valencia and Matteo Darmian at wing-back and a debut for Victor Lindelöf in defence. Lukaku will start up front.
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Navas; Carvajal, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo
Man Utd (3-5-2): De Gea; Lindelöf, Smalling, Blind; Valencia, Herrera, Matić, Pogba, Darmian; Mkhitaryan, Lukaku
The arrival of Matić may allow us to see Paul Pogba play with more freedom and with Lukaku in the side we may see a different performance from United compared to what we saw last year.
However, even if Ronaldo and Bale do not start the Spanish giants will be tough to beat. If Modrić and Kroos can dominate the midfield then we could have a very tight game on our hands.
Real Madrid 1-1 Manchester United (Madrid win on penalties)