MANCHESTER UNITED will face a 40 degree Balkan furnace when they arrive for their UEFA Super Cup clash with Real Madrid.
Temperatures in Skopje are over 20 degrees higher than in Manchester.
And it will still be a sweltering 35 degrees by the time the game kicks off in the 32,000 capacity Philip II Stadium tomorrow evening.
The punishing heat will be a real drain on the players just five days before they kick off their Premier League title challenge against West Ham at Old Trafford on Sunday.
United and Real faced each other in oppressive heat in Santa Clara on the US west coast three weeks ago but temperatures here will be the hottest they have ever endured.
UEFA are set to allow water breaks to avoid the players suffering severe dehydration.
Health warnings are in place across southern Europe where temperatures – the highest recorded for a decade in some regions – have reached potentially dangerous levels.
“The club is in a rebuilding process and the manager is doing the right things to take the club back to where it belongs” – Manchester United star Romelu Lukaku
United have lost their last two Super Cup bids in1999 and 2008 but Romelu Lukaku is convinced boss Jose Mourinho can take the Red Devils back to the top this season – where he believes they belong.
Lukaku, a £75m summer signing from Everton, will spearhead United’s attack tomorrow.
Mourinho has put his faith in Lukaku to fill the void left by 28-goal striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, released by Manchester United this summer following a serious injury.
And Lukaku, whose eventual fee could rise to £90m, believes Mourinho is the man to bring the glory days back to United, who have not been crowned champions since Sir Alex Ferguson signed off with the club’s 20th title in 2013.
“The club is in a rebuilding process and the manager is doing the right things to take the club back to where it belongs,” said Lukaku.
“That’s the exciting part. I think he’s a manager to help us win trophies.
Matic: I can’t wait to start training with Manchester United
“The club is there to help me, but I’m a team player and I want to win trophies. That’s the most important thing – trophies before everything.
“So if I can help my team-mates to do that, I’ll be delighted. I just want to improve constantly. I don’t want to have time to be complacent.
“I want to become better every single day and work as hard as I can. If you play for a big club, then you have to act like a big player and perform, week-in, week-out.
“Being at United, you have to challenge for every cup and title there is. That’s what I want and why I’m here to help the team perform.
“I’m not going to talk too much, I’m going to perform on the pitch and do whatever it takes to win.”
United winger Juan Mata is hoping to make it third time lucky in the Super Cup after losing on his previous two appearances in the showpiece event when he was playing for Chelsea.
“I’ve been lucky to have played in two Super Cups and unlucky to have lost two, so maybe it’ll be third time lucky,” said Mata.
“Last season was a good season, now we have an opportunity this season to lift more trophies.
“We have the chance to lift another one, which is going to be difficult against a team like Real Madrid. Our minds are focussed on that.”