The two European competition winners from last season meet in a mouth-watering clash of tactics and talent…

The 2017 UEFA Super Cup will be the 42nd edition of the competition, an annual match organised by UEFA and contested by the reigning champions of the two main European club competitions, UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League. The match will feature Real Madrid, the winners of the 2016–17 Champions League and Manchester United, the winners of the Europa League. It will be played at the Philip II Arena in Skopje, Macedonia and will be the first UEFA final staged in the country.

Two of the most successful clubs in world football have been quite busy in the transfer window so far. If reports are to be believed, it is highly likely that Manchester United will field all of their new signings in the match. Elsewhere, the club from the Spanish capital looks set to go out there with the same playing XI as in the UCL Final.

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While the two teams have never met in the Super Cup, they have met 10 times in the European Champion Clubs’ Cup/UEFA Champions League; Real Madrid have the advantage in the teams’ previous meetings, with four wins to United’s two There have been four draws.

Off the field, both the clubs have been involved in many upsetting events altogether. The David de Gea transfer saga, United’s attempt to signing Alvaro Morata being pushed back to name some. Meanwhile, both Madrid and United enter the tie in contrasting form. Zinedine Zidane‘s men have only played four friendlies and have failed to win a single game in 90 minutes. The results include losses to Barcelona and Manchester City.

On the other hand, United have played seven friendlies and have won all but one against Barcelona. In fact, the Red Devils faced Los Blancos in the International Champions Cup and beat the European champions on penalties.

In the past Super Cup matches have proved to be an affair often won by the UCL winners. Regardless of the manner of the win, Barcelona and Real Madrid have dominated this event in the past four seasons. It will be interesting to see how the game pans out this time around.

Let’s take a look at how the teams may line up in this one.

Real Madrid

The trio of Casemiro, Kroos and Modric will be key to Madrid’s success

Ever since the departure of Iker Casillas, Real Madrid have been desperate to make a high profile goalkeeper acquisition of their own. Their failed attempts to sign De Gea and Thibaut Courtois has made Keylor Navas their primary choice and he has made the most of it. Navas has been instrumental between the posts and is an integral part of Madrid’s recent successes both domestically and in Europe.

Dani Carvajal has established himself as one of the best right-backs in world football at the moment. He is defensively very sound and is a potent attacking threat in the opposition’s half, contributing nine assists last season.

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Raphael Varane‘s time at Real Madrid hasn’t gone as he would have expected. Firstly, he wasn’t able to break into the team due to Pepe and Sergio Ramos’ partnership at the back and secondly, his career has been plagued by injuries. Now that Pepe is gone, the responsibility of partnering Ramos falls to the French prodigy.

Sergio Ramos is arguably the ones of the greatest defenders of this generation. A true Madridista, the captain has made over 500 appearances for the Los Blancos. Known for being a true leader, Ramos captained Madrid to a league and Champions League double last season. 

Marcelo is another player who has developed himself as the best in his position. He is known for his blistering pace and his marauding runs in the opposition half which makes him an attacking threat. However, he is often criticised for neglecting his defensive duties.

Casemiro had his best season last time with Real Madrid, making 39 appearances in all competitions. He was a vital member of the double winning squad and was even included in the Champions League Team of the Season. The Brazilian does the dirty work for the team with his aggression and tackling abilities.

Luka Modric had another outstanding season with Madrid making 41 appearances for the club. He is a treat to watch when on his game with his incisive passing and creativity making him the ideal partner for Toni Kroos. Kroos epitomises what a modern day midfielder should be like. The German has great vision and passing abilities and can play as a defensive or a box-to-box midfielder. 

Isco would walk into most teams in the world but at Real, he’s mostly been a backup player. He was playing only when Gareth Bale went missing and he made the most of it. He just had his best season in terms of dominating the attack. Played just behind two out-and-out strikers, he can boss the game with his left foot, as was seen in the away leg of the semi-final against Atletico Madrid in last season’s UCL.

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Regardless of the playing position, Karim Benzema is ought to do extraordinary things to support Cristiano Ronaldo in his goals. The focus on Ronaldo has hindered his progress as a striker but when the two are playing together, they complement each other in a lot of ways. They both move around to cross and make room for the other.

Cristiano Ronaldo has tasted immense success with Real Madrid and is already their all-time leading goalscorer. He has cut short his holidays just to play against his former club and it could prove mouth-watering for us all.

Manchester United

All of United’s new signings are likedly to be on show

David de Gea is undoubtedly one of the best goalkeepers in the world. He saved United from many a difficult situation and won Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year for three consecutive years. Without a doubt, Jose Mourinho will have a difficult time in selecting from two outstanding shot-stoppers. It would be interesting to see who he will pick, Europa League’s main starter last season Sergio Romero or Real’s target De Gea. If reports are to be believed, De Gea will be the one standing between the posts. 

Victor Lindelof signed for Manchester United from Benfica for a fee of £30m and will slot straight into the starting lineup. Lindelof won the European Under-21 Championship with Sweden. Mourinho can be trusted with his defensive signings and Lindelof will be eager to prove himself in the first real competition of the summer. Elsewhere, Chris Smalling is the only natural centre-back available for selection. The pair of Eric Bailly and Phil Jones is suspended for various reasons, while Marcos Rojo is still in rehabilitation. 

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Since the departure of Patrice Evra, The left-back position has been a revolving door. As many as half a dozen players have been tried to fit into the structure and failed miserably, so much so that another right-back is often used on the left. Matteo Darmian is familiar with the position, clearly visible through his performances.

Nemanja Matic is one of the favourites of Mourinho. The Serb has already played under the Portuguese and has moved from Chelsea. The Serbian is an ideal signing for United as it frees up other midfielders to attack more.

How United could line up this season (Courtesy: The Corner)

Ander Herrera was one of the best midfielders in the league last season and won United’s Player of the Year. Adored by the fans, he is touted to become the next United captain. He is very good defensively but can improve his attacking game for he scored only one goal in the league. He will be looking to build on his terrific performances last season.

Paul Pogba arrived as the most expensive player in the world and was expected to set the league alight. Mourinho, though, played him in a midfield two where he couldn’t attack as much as he would’ve wanted, scoring only nine goals in 58 appearances. With the arrival of Matic, Pogba is expected to have more attakcing freedom.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan played a vital role in United’s Europa League triumph, scoring six goals including one in the final. Mkhitaryan, though, struggled at times in the Premier League managing just four goals last season.

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Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial are tipped for bright futures at Manchester United and in International football after their performances for the Red Devils. Despite being natural strikers, they played on the wings where their pace caused many problems for the defences. With the arrival of Romelu Lukaku, it will be interesting to see which of the two partner the Belgian upfront.

Lukaku is the type of striker that Mourinho has always admired. Players like Didier Drogba and Diego Costa have something in common, they have an eye to drift into space to receive the ball. He might prove to be the last piece of the jigsaw for his success at United.