SKOPJE, August 8 — Skopje is in the focus of international football fans as two major European teams, Real Madrid and Manchester United, meet in the Macedonian capital to play the UEFA Super Cup final on Tuesday. It is one of the biggest sports events ever to be organized in the country.
Both teams arrived in Skopje on Monday and held their first trainings at the National “Telekom Arena.” One of the biggest challenges for the players will be the extreme heat wave rocking Macedonia in recent days, causing temperatures to rise over 40 degrees Celsius.
The coach of the “Red Devils”, Jose Murinho, admitted that he had a special strategy to prepare his players for the Macedonian summer heat.
“I knew what’s the weather like. When we returned from the US, I decided that we should train in Manchester at 4PM every day. But it kept raining every day there,” Murinho said at the pre-match press conference in Skopje. “I think that for Real it will be difficult as well, although they are more accommodated to these types of conditions.”
“I don’t think that the hot weather will give us any advantage. It is hot in Madrid as well, but both teams prepared in the US. It is 90 minutes of game and we can’t do anything to change the weather,” said the coach of the Spanish “Kings”, Zinedine Zidane.
He hinted that his team’s biggest star Cristiano Ronaldo is ready to play against Manchester, although he only returned to training two days ago after he was given an extended break following his Confederations Cup exertions with Portugal.
The Super Cup game will include water breaks if soaring temperatures in Macedonia continue, UEFA confirmed on Monday.
Fans from the UK and Spain, but also from all over the world, poured into Skopje to watch the game. The interest caused the prices of hotel accommodation in Skopje to increase several times for the days surrounding the match.
The fans have already started filling the cafes in Skopje, chanting and having fun prior to the game on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Interpol issued a list of 60 “dangerous” football fans to the Macedonian authorities that are to be immediately denied if they try to enter Macedonian territory. These are fans of both teams which are known to cause problems and incidents.
There are nearly 33,500 seats in the Macedonian National “Telekom Arena” which was remodelled in 2009. The arena was originally given the name “Phillip II” but was recently renamed as “Telekom Arena.”