LONDON (Reuters) – Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho can collect the one European trophy he lacks when his side face Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup tonight 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 Liga title with a record 100 points and won a King’s Cup 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.
Champions League holders Real will be without talisman and former United forward Cristiano Ronaldo in Skopje, Macedonia, as the Portugal international was allowed to report late for pre-season training after he played in the Confederations Cup.
Zinedine Zidane’s side beat Sevilla 3-2 in extra-time last year to win the showcase match 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 lineup 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 arriving at a combined cost of $190.34 million 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 Liga and Champions League double last season while parting ways with forwards Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez.
Their reported interest in French teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe has yet to materialise, however.
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 United States 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 an MLS All-Stars team.
“The sensation overall is not good, when you don’t win any of your four games something is wrong,” Zidane told reporters.
“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.”