Manchester United are back in action on Tuesday, in a glorified friendly that comes with all the bells and whistles. They're going head-to-head with Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup in the Macedonian capital Skopje, hoping to win this not-so-illustrious title for the first time since beating Red Star Belgrade at Old Trafford in 1991. Get ready!
What is the Super Cup?
The UEFA Super Cup has run since 1972. For the first 27 years of the tournament's existence, it was played between the winners of the Champions League (née European Cup) and the Cup WInners' Cup. However, since the latter was consigned to the dustbin of footballing history, the Super Cup has been instead contested by the winners of the Champions League and Europa League (née UEFA Cup) winners, which this time around happen to be Real Madrid and Manchester United respectively.
Does it matter?
No. Not tangibly, anyway. Come the end of the season, hardly anyone’s going to remember who actually won the damn thing, which is little more than a slightly fancier version of the Community Shield. That said, there are almost certainly some intangible mental benefits to be gleaned from kicking off the season with a win against the reigning European champions — or at least avoiding a thrashing. José Mourinho probably won’t be too bothered if Real Madrid win this game, but he’ll certainly be concerned if United are battered. It wouldn’t exactly augur well for the start of the domestic campaign.
The big news for United is that Eric Bailly and Phil Jones are both out suspended — the former having had a ban carried over from last season’s European sortie, the latter after abusing an anti-doping official in the aftermath of the Europa League triumph over Ajax. That will almost certainly mean Victor Lindelöf will make his (semi-)competitive United debut, partnering Chris Smalling in the centre of defence. Nemanja Matić and Romelu Lukaku are also both likely to be involved. The same can’t be said for defenders Luke Shaw and Marcos Rojo, and cheerleader-cum-honorary-full-back Ashley Young: they’re all out with long-term injuries.
Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane is waiting on the fitness of apparent United target Gareth Bale, who has reportedly been suffering with an ankle injury. Former Reds winger Cristiano Ronaldo is likely to be involved after returning to training on Saturday after an extended break, though it remains to be seen if he’s to be handed a start. Summer signings Theo Hernández and Dani Ceballos — who play in defence and midfield respectively — are both hoping to feature.
Where can I watch it?
Those in the United Kingdom can catch the action on their televisual boxes if they tune into BT Sport 2. BT, as ever, also have their live streaming service for those subscribed. Those Stateside can find an English language TV option in Fox Sports 1; ESPN Deportes is the place for Spanish speakers to be. There are multifarious online streaming options, including Fox Sports Go and ESPN Deportes+. Those in other parts of the world can head on over to LiveSoccerTV to find their viewing options.