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Winners of Europe's premier club competition three times, Manchester United will be looking to avenge last season's disappointing quarter-final exit to Bayern Munich.

STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES
 
Not least an intimidating reputation that spans 42 years of European and domestic success, and a continuous string of world class players, United are regularly England's strongest contenders to bring the Champions League home. Except for the past couple of years, that is, where their dominance of English football has been usurped by Chelsea.

At Old Trafford, United remain a force and are rarely beaten, and in Sir Alex Ferguson have a manager primed at turning average players into world beaters (Darren Fletcher, anyone?), but the prestigious history is almost too much of a weight for his current crop, with the expectation of the United fans to clean up at home and the continent clearly a pressure on the players.

STARS & KEY PLAYER

Last season United's ace was Wayne Rooney, who smashed home an impressive 34 goals in all competitions, but when he was sidelined through an ankle injury, the side began to suffer and a half-fit Rooney was unable to prevent his team crashing out in the quarter-finals to Bayern. Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes continue to defy the aging process but it's the form of the erratic Nani that will have most fans anxious. The Portuguese winger has the ability to be United's next Cristiano Ronaldo, but suffers from stage fright from time to time.

COACH & TACTICAL

The most decorated coach in the Premier League - and also the grumpiest -  Sir Alex Ferguson rightly commands respect for the plethora of trophies won at Manchester United and after more than 20 years at the same club, invokes memories of an era where clubs didn't change managers every five minutes.

Tactically, United rely on a strong midfield and like to get the ball out to the wings, where Ecuadorian Antonio Valencia and the ageless Giggs create havoc. That Giggs is still a first-team choice - alongside fellow veteran Scholes - is testimony to Ferguson's meticulous care of his players, to whom he is often seen as a (less than friendly) father figure.

SUCCESSES

Where to start? Three European Cups (1968, 1999 and 2008), 18 league titles, 11 FA Cups and countless enemies made along the way, United are England's most successful team domestically, but still lag behind Liverpool in Europe, two trophies down. But seeing as Liverpool didn't even make the Champions League qualifier this season, they won't be pulling clear any time soon.

STADIUM

Old Trafford is one of England's most recognisable stadiums, probably because it has the team's name emblazed across the outside and the seats but regardless it is one of the hardest places to get a result. And at a staggering 76,000 is one of the UK's largest stadiums.

HERO OF THE FANS


The United fans won't hear a bad word against Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, but will eagerly show their disdain to the club's American owners the Glazer family, with large sections of the Old Trafford faithful boycotting club merchandise and even season tickets as protests gather pace. Patches of yellow and green - the club's original colours - are seeping into the sea of red at home games, as fans voice their concern over the running of the club.

GOAL.COM PREDICTION

It may seem like an obvious observation but if Wayne Rooney can stay fit and focused then there is no reason why Manchester United can't mount a serious challenge for the Champions League. The squad is packed with European experience and will be confident of winning a group that consists of Valencia, Rangers, and Bursaspor, but the semi-finals may well be as far as they get.


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Most Discussed
Top Scorers
Player Goals Penalties
Robin van Persie Robin van Persie
Striker
Man Utd.
17 3
Wayne Rooney Wayne Rooney
Striker
Man Utd.
17 2
Danny Welbeck Danny Welbeck
Striker
Man Utd.
10 0
Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez
Striker
Man Utd.
9 1
Antonio Valencia Antonio Valencia
Midfielder
Man Utd.
4 0