Juan Mata looks ahead to UEFA Super Cup clash with Real Madrid

by Leo Nieboer

Juan Mata has been looking ahead to Manchester United’s clash with Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup, noting that everybody wants to beat the Champions League winners.

The game against Zinedine Zidane’s men presents Man United with a chance to claim their first ever Super Cup trophy; they lost to Lazio and Zenit Saint Petersburg respectively in 1999 and 2008.

United’s last competitive clash with Los Blancos saw Cristiano Ronaldo – included in the Madrid squad despite not playing a single game in pre-season – put Sir Alex Ferguson‘s side out of the Champions League in 2013.

And Mata, speaking at a press conference in Skopje, expressed a determination to send out a message to the rest of Europe by beating the reigning continental champions on Tuesday night.

“They are the ones everyone wants to beat; they have a great team, they won league in Spain,” he said.

“We know how good they are but United has great history and record of titles. We won three trophies last season. One day, sooner rather than later, we want to be where they were last season – in a Champions League final and hopefully winning it.”

If you aren’t excited by spectacle of Madrid taking on United – two titans of the world game unrivalled by none when it comes to their global following – then football isn’t for you.

The prospect of Zidane’s warriors, spearheaded by Ronaldo and backed up by the likes of Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Isco and Luka Modric, ripping United to shreds cannot be ruled out. They are footballing royalty, unassailable in Europe over the last two years.

But can Mourinho’s men stop them? You sense that the underpinning factor behind this being a competitive encounter lies with how the potentially shaky defensive pair of Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof shape up. If they can hold firm, shielded by the powerful Nemanja Matic, then United have a solid platform from which to build attacks to cause problems.

If they can’t – well, I’ll let you use your imagination.

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