Jose Mourinho believes Manchester United are clear underdogs heading into their UEFA Super Cup showdown with Real Madrid in Skopje.
Mourinho rounded off his first season in charge of United with victory in the Europa League final against Ajax in Stockholm, setting up a meeting in the continental season curtain-raiser against the 12-time European champions and his former employers.
A productive close-season in the transfer market has seen Romelu Lukaku, Victor Lindelof and Nemanja Matic arrive at Old Trafford to boost the prospects of a Premier League title bid but Mourinho still feels the gap between Zinedine Zidane's side and his own is significant by definition.
"We are going to try but the difference between the Champions League winners and Europa League winners is obvious," he told a pre-match news conference.
"The Europa League is very difficult to win. There is a difference of quality but we believe it’s possible.
"My team should play and enjoy this special moment. It's not many times in a player can play in the Super Cup unless you are Real or Barcelona, winning European trophies regularly."
To Skopje.We're heading to Macedonia for our clash with Real Madrid: August 7, 2017
Playmaker Juan Mata also faced the media and the Spain international sounded a similar tone to his boss.
"When we talk about Real Madrid, we're talking about the actual Champions League winners, which is the best you can win," he said. "We have won the Europe League.
"Obviously they are the ones everyone wants to beat, they have a great team, they won the league in Spain as well. We know how good they are but United as well have a great history as a winner of titles.
"We won two titles last season and sooner or later we want to be where Real Madrid were last season, which was in the Champions League final, and to try to win it."
. on our opponents, ... August 7, 2017
United and Madrid have been greeted by temperatures spiralling up towards 40 degrees Celsius in the Macedonian capital and Mourinho suggested undertaking final preparations amid Mancunian drizzle had not been ideal.
"I knew the weather was like this. Since returning from the States, I decided to train in Manchester every day at 4pm to give the feeling of heat but it was raining every day," he said.
"Even for Real it has to be hard, though they are more adapted."
Centre-backs Eric Bailly and Phil Jones are unavailable due to suspension, while fellow defender Timothy Fosu-Mensah is on the verge of concluding a loan move to Crystal Palace.
Matic is available to feature but Mourinho confirmed the recent arrival from Chelsea is short of match fitness.
"Obviously Matic is available but not like the others," he added.
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