Manchester United have taken a new full squad to Macedonia ahead of today’s UEFA Super Cup clash against Real Madrid, marking the official start of the season for Jose Mourinho’s team after an action packed pre-season that took in America, Norway and Ireland.
There are no new injuries to be worried about and the manager’s biggest headache will be in determining exactly which players get to start the game.
Unfortunately, Eric Bailly and Phil Jones are both serving European suspensions. Bailly recently saw his one-game ban for a red card in last season’s Europa League semi-final second leg upgraded to a three games, while Jones is out for two games after frustration over procedure lead to an outburst towards a doping control officer following the final of the competition in Stockholm.
Injured and unable to play any part in any of United’s pre-season games, Luke Shaw, Marcos Rojo and Ashley Young remain on the sidelines and will resume their non-playing roles in Skopje’s Philip II Arena as they continue their respective recoveries.
Spanish duo Ander Herrera and Juan Mata were the only players to pick up knocks on tour, but both have suitably recovered and have had minutes on the pitch since.
Fans will be interested to see new signings Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic in a competitive setting for the first time. Despite struggling in pre-season, the defensive suspensions could see Victor Lindelof handed a start unless Jose Mourinho decides to bring Daley Blind back into the middle alongside Chris Smalling in a repeat of the pairing that started the Europa League final in May.
“We are working for the Super Cup and it is our first objective,” right-back and possible captain for the night Antonio Valencia recently told ManUtd.com.
“We are motivated, we are working hard, we are concentrated and we are hopeful that we can achieve our goal of lifting the trophy in Macedonia.
“My main objective is always to win titles and then it is just enjoying the day to day, the training and all of the games. But winning titles is what I always look to target ahead of the season.”