SKOPJE • Manchester United's Jose Mourinho can collect the one European trophy he lacks when his side face Real Madrid in the Uefa Super Cup today in his first competitive meeting with the Spanish giants since an acrimonious split in 2013.
The Portuguese, whose team won the Europa League last season to salvage an otherwise disappointing first campaign under him, led Real to the LaLiga title with a record 100 points and also 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.
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 have included talisman and former United forward Cristiano Ronaldo in their 24-man squad to Skopje, Macedonia, despite the Portugal forward reporting for pre-season training only on Saturday after he played in the Confederations Cup.
It would be a major surprise if coach Zinedine Zidane were to field the 32-year-old against his former club in the match at the Philip II Arena in the Macedonian capital.
This annual meeting of the European champions and Europa League winners comes to the Balkan state after going to Prague, Cardiff, Tbilisi and Trondheim in recent years.
SUPER CUP FINALISTS' PRE-SEASON RECORD
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 will be missing central defenders Eric Bailly and Phil Jones due to suspension, opening up a place in the starting line-up for new recruit Victor Lindelof.
The Swede is one of three signings made by United in the close season along with Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku and Serbian midfielder Nemanja Matic arriving at a combined cost of £146 million (S$259.3 million) as the English side look to improve on a disappointing sixth-placed Premier League finish last term.
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 on Sunday.
But Mourinho insisted that revenge was not on his mind.
"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.
"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."
Real have added promising youngsters Theo Hernandez and Dani Ceballos to their talent-packed squad which won a LaLiga and Champions League double last season while parting ways with forwards Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez.
United beat Real on penalties after a 1-1 draw in an International Champions Cup friendly in California last month and won five of their other pre-season games, losing only to Barcelona.
Real failed to win any of their four friendlies in the United States in 90 minutes, losing 2-3 to Barca and getting thrashed 4-1 by Manchester City, with 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 said after the tour. "We have to do a lot more."
But he told Uefa.com last weekend: "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."
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
REAL MADRID V MANCHESTER UNITED
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