SKOPJE, Macedonia – Gareth Bale has been included in the Real Madrid starting line-up for Tuesday’s Uefa Super Cup meeting with Manchester United at the Philip II Arena in Skopje.
Bale plays with Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench, having only started training with his teammates at the weekend following an extended summer break.
Bale’s inclusion comes after United manager Jose Mourinho mischievously declared on the eve of the game that he was ready to make a bid to take the Welshman to Old Trafford.
The former Tottenham Hotspur player has been linked with a transfer amid reports that Madrid want to sign Monaco sensation Kylian Mbappe, who is rated at €180 million by his club.
But Mourinho suggested that he would interpret Bale being named in the Madrid team here as a sign that he remained in the Spanish giants’ plans and would therefore not be for sale.
Apart from Bale, the Madrid team is the same as that which started the 4-1 Champions League final win over Juventus in Cardiff in June.
Meanwhile, Mourinho included all three of his summer signings to date in his team in the Macedonian capital.
Swedish defender Victor Lindelof, from Benfica, ex-Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku, a £75 million recruit from Everton, all play for the Europa League winners.
Antonio Valencia captains the English side as he makes his 50th appearance in a Uefa club competition fixture.
Uefa Super Cup starting line-ups (8.45pm SA time kickoff)
Real Madrid (4-3-3)
Keylor Navas; Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos (captain), Marcelo; Luka Modric, Casemiro, Toni Kroos; Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, Isco.
Manchester United (4-3-3)
David de Gea; Antonio Valencia (captain), Victor Lindelof, Chris Smalling, Matteo Darmian; Ander Herrera, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba; Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Romelu Lukaku, Jesse Lingard.