UEFA Super Cup: Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo ready for Manchester United return
Real Madrid's Portuguese superstar Cristiano could face off against one of his former clubs for the seventh time when Galacticos clash with Mourinho's men in UEFA Super Cup final
Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo (left) celebrates with his teammate after scoring the third goal against Juventus during the UEFA Champions League final in Cardiff in June this year. Pic/Getty Images
Cristiano Ronaldo has been named in Real Madrid's squad for the UEFA Super Cup clash with Manchester United.
Ronaldo, 32, was given an extended break following his part in Portugal's Confederations Cup campaign, before appearing at a Spanish court to answer charges relating to his tax returns.
Ronaldo has denied he evaded tax or hid details of his income from the authorities — charges that led the world's best player to seriously consider a move away from the Bernabeu earlier in the summer. However, the Portuguese appears set to stay put and, despite only just returning to training, has been included in the 24-man squad taking on former club United in Macedonia.
Real Madrid face Jose Mourinho's Europa League winners in the UEFA Super Cup in Skopje tonight.
Ron, a match winner
Ronaldo's two goals helped propel Madrid to a 4-1 victory over Juventus in the Champions League final in Cardiff two months ago. That victory saw Real become the first club to retain the trophy in the Champions League era and completed a glorious campaign in which they also won La Liga.
The season started with a 3-2 extra-time triumph against Sevilla in the Super Cup in the Norwegian city of Trondheim. "Real Madrid is a team, a club, an institution that has hunger. We all know where we are and when you finish a season like last year winning, it helps you try to do the same thing coming into the new season," Zidane — whose team have Barcelona to come at the weekend in the Spanish Super Cup — said in a UEFA interview.
However, his side failed to record a victory during a pre-season tour of the United States that included a high-profile friendly encounter with Jose Mourinho's United in Santa Clara, California. That International Champions Cup encounter ended in a 1-1 draw before United won on penalties. While the Spaniards have made two relatively low-key summer signings in Dani Ceballos from Betis and Theo Hernandez from Atletico Madrid, United have spent big ahead of their return to the Champions League. The Europa League winners have added the defender Victor Lindelof from Benfica, the midfielder Nemanja Matic from Chelsea and Everton striker Romelu Lukaku and they wrapped up their preparations with a 2-1 win over Sampdoria in Dublin.
Mourinho plays down reunion
This match offers a chance for United to start the new campaign on a high before their opening Premier League game against West Ham United next Sunday. In a glittering career Mourinho has not yet won the Super Cup — his Chelsea team lost on penalties to Bayern Munich in the 2013 edition. The Portuguese is coming up against the club he coached for three years until 2013 — he did not leave the Spanish capital on the best of terms but he insisted that experience is not on his mind this week.
"It's something I've been through many times. I left Porto and two months later I was facing them in the Champions League," he told UEFA.com . "I left Chelsea and a few months later I was facing them with Manchester United. I never look at it in terms of taking on my former club, not at all. So I just look at Real Madrid as what they are: a big club, the European champions, and it's a great motivation for us to play against them."
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