Mata: European Super Cup is our focus

Manchester United will face Real Madrid in an International Champions Cup match on Sunday, just over two weeks ahead of facing Zinedine Zidane’s team in the European Super Cup.

Juan Mata believes the outing at the gargantuan Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara will be a great occasion for the club’s American supporters, while providing another beneficial workout for the Reds, yet he admits the squad is thinking more about the game in Macedonia next month.

The European Super Cup – an annual game between the winners of the Champions League and Europa League – is a competition that United previously won in 1991. Success against Los Blancos would act as a perfect way to start the 2017/18 season for Jose Mourinho’s highly-determined team.

It remains to be seen whether Mata will be fit to play against Madrid in Santa Clara on Sunday, after suffering an ankle injury in the win against Real Salt Lake last Monday. Nonetheless, the fleet-footed Spanish forward is looking forward to the challenge of facing the La Liga champions.

“It is always great to play against this kind of team,” Juan told MUTV at training on Saturday. “Of course Real Madrid had a fantastic season last season. They have a fantastic team, and it will be good for both teams, it will be good for the American fans and hopefully it will be a great game.”

Asked if the upcoming European Super Cup is on United’s mind, Juan continued: “That is where our mind is at the moment. We are trying to get to that game in the best shape we can, physically and mentally, that is why we are training hard in the pre-season.

“The Super Cup is in our minds and it is obviously against Real Madrid. We are looking forward to it, looking forward to hopefully adding another trophy to the history of the club and it is going to be difficult but we will try our best.”

By the time that match in Macedonia comes around, the Reds will have played seven pre-season matches – five in the US against LA Galaxy, Real Salt Lake, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona, plus two in Europe against Valerenga and Sampdoria. Mata believes his team-mates will be completely match fit.

“After we come back from the US we have two more games and it will be a total of seven, which is more than enough to be ready for the Super Cup,” the amenable Spaniard told us. “Hopefully we can all be fit, we will have no more injuries at that moment and we can try to beat them.”

United had been based in Los Angeles for the first two weeks of Tour 2017, presented by Aon, but left the City of Angels on Saturday afternoon for a short stay in San Jose. As Mata told us, everything about the facilities, conditions and people in California was absolutely perfect for the Reds.

“Yeah it has been great,” he said. “As you can see the facilities are great, the people are treating us here very, very well. We love to come here to the UCLA, which is a great university. So we are very happy with those two weeks. It was good work for us to get fit, we had good results in the games – which is not the most important thing but it helps. So we are really satisfied with our time in LA.”

The attention now is facing Real Madrid before a meeting with fellow Spanish giants Barcelona in Washington, after chalking up three straight victories. Winning all five games in the US would provide plenty of momentum for United but Mata is keen to stress that results are not vital in pre-season.

“Winning always helps, obviously, to boost the confidence of the team and especially now in the beginning,” he concluded. “But it doesn’t matter a lot to be fair. It is more about getting in shape and practising in the game what we trained in the week. It has been good, we have played well in the games and now we have another two big games so we are looking forward to them.”