Football

A Real test for Mourinho

United manager has to get one over on his former club to win elusive European trophy

UEFA SUPER CUP
REAL MADRID MAN UNITED

Manchester United's Jose Mourinho can collect the one European trophy he lacks when his side face Real Madrid in the Uefa Super Cup tomorrow morning (Singapore time) in his first competitive meeting with the Spanish giants since an acrimonious split in 2013.

Mourinho, whose team won the Europa League last season to salvage an otherwise disappointing first campaign under the Portuguese, led Real to the La Liga title with a record 100 points and won a Copa del Rey in an eventful stay between 2010 and 2013.

His achievements at the Santiago Bernabeu were overshadowed, however, by his falling out with key dressing room figures such as Sergio Ramos and Iker Casillas as well as confrontations with referees and opponents plus a failure to win the Champions League, as Real lost in the semi-finals each year.

Mourinho's legacy has been upstaged by the Spanish club's three Champions League triumphs in the four years since his departure, although in a recent interview, the Portuguese claimed he had "to beg" Real's board to let him leave for Chelsea.

Cristiano Ronaldo could feature against his former club after being included in Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane's squad for the trip to Skopje, Macedonia.

TAX EVASION

Ronaldo's summer has been overshadowed by accusations of tax evasion in Spain, which led to him appearing in court last week, and speculation over his future.

According to a report from Spanish radio station Cadena Ser, Ronaldo told the court he "would like to return to England" due to his tax troubles in Spain.

The World Player of the Year returned to training with his Real teammates only on Saturday as he was handed an extended summer break after playing for Portugal at the Confederations Cup and is still not expected to start.

However, as is common for showpiece occasions, Zidane has decided to take his entire 24-man squad to Macedonia.

Los Bloncos beat Sevilla 3-2 in extra-time last year to win the Uefa Super Cup and the French coach is targeting a fourth European trophy in less than two years in charge of Real, which would match Mourinho's tally of continental titles.

United, meanwhile, will be missing central defenders Eric Bailly and Phil Jones due to suspension, opening up a place in the starting line-up for new recruit Victor Lindelof.

The Swede is one of three signings made so far by United along with Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku and midfield anchorman Nemanja Matic.

The trio cost a combined £146 million (S$259m) as the Old Trafford side look to improve on a disappointing sixth-placed Premier League finish last term.

Real have added promising youngsters Theo Hernandez and Dani Ceballos to their talent-packed squad which won a La Liga and Champions League double last season.

However, they recently parted ways with forwards Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez.

Their reported interest in French teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe has also yet to materialise.

United beat Real on penalties after a 1-1 draw in a friendly in California last month and won five of their other pre-season games, losing only to Barcelona.

Real, meanwhile, failed to win any of their four friendlies in the US in 90 minutes, losing 3-2 to Barca and getting thrashed 4-1 by Manchester City, their only win coming in a shoot-out victory over a Major League Soccer All-Stars team.

"The sensation overall is not good, when you don't win any of your four games something is wrong," Zidane said after the tour.

"We have to do a lot more, we've made a bad start with these results and what we all want is to get home, rest and think about the Super Cup." - WIRE SERVICES

FootballManchester UnitedREAL MADRID