Man United's strength in depth and attacking threat will see Jose Mourinho's men deliver in Champions League

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It took me until my tenth season in the Champions League to win it and by that time I was desperate – the whole team was too after what happened to Manchester United in 1998/99.

It was a big time for me in 2007/08 personally because I had torn my ACL and my was first game back was in the quarter-final against Roma so I thought ‘okay, if this is how it’s going to be, let’s do it!’ Patrice Evra had been doing so well that season so he had given me only a little time to play. I also came on against Barcelona at the end of the semi-final to keep things tight.

We felt like we had prepared for the game with all the details we needed, tactically and physically, and that if we respected the game plan we’d come out on top. It was a tight result and we were on the edge for 180 minutes, but after so many disappointments, it was time to do the job and we did it against Chelsea in the final.

Manchester United players pose with the trophy after beating Chelsea in the final of the Champions League football match at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on May 21, 2008. The match remained at a 1-1 draw and Manchester won on penalties after extra time. AFP PHOTO / Franck Fife (Photo credit should read FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images)

Silvestre won the Champions League with Man United in Moscow in 2008.

We felt like we had found what was missing from the previous years. The work that Carlos Queiroz had done was key. He brought a tactical awareness that we needed in Europe that was different to the flow of the Premier League.

The EPL is high speed and English teams find it difficult to manage the down moments, when you need to keep possession of the ball – that’s what the Spanish and Italian teams do so well.

Cristiano Ronaldo was brilliant that year but we also had great players like Nemanja Vidic and Evra who had joined, and Michael Carrick who is the type of midfielder you need to respond to the likes of Andres Iniesta and Xavi.

But I think the English teams will do well this year, apart from Spurs who have a tough group.

Manchester United's Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku (L) and Manchester United's French midfielder Paul Pogba attends a team training session at the club's training complex near Carrington, west of Manchester in north west England on September 11, 2017, on the eve of their UEFA Champions League Group A football match against FC Basel. / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Much of the onus for the Red Devils will be on Lukaku and Pogba.

They all have quality players with quality managers. I might be a Red Devil but I don’t think I’m being biased saying Manchester United will do the best, as the quality on their bench sets them apart.

The transition from last season to this season is quite clear, they are being aggressive defensively and are quick in the transition.

The team was not very quick going forward after recovering the ball but they now have the players to do that.

Chelsea are also strong defensively. Yes they have conceded some goals, but they are well coached under Antonio Conte and they have Alvaro Morata who is a great finisher.

COBHAM, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 11: Manager Antonio Conte of Chelsea speaks to the media in a press conference ahead of thier UEFA Champions League group C match against FK Qarabag at Chelsea Training Ground on September 11, 2017 in Cobham, England. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Will Chelsea’s return to the Champions League bring success?

You can’t count a team out who has Neymar – you’d rather have him than not – but I think PSG will fall short.

It’s a tough season for Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid. Winning every trophy with those players, and to keep up that motivation, will be a good test of character.

Barcelona will respond, I think because they are driven by the loss of Neymar and they are a great club with a massive history. They can’t afford to have a second season like their last so this can be a fresh start with a fresh manager. They will still be a real threat – whether that is enough, I don’t know.

Saint-Denis, FRANCE: France's midfielder Zinedine Zidane (L) gives his captain armband to defender Mickael Silvestre as he leaves the pitch for a substitution during the friendly test match France vs. Mexico, ahead of the 2006 World Cup, 27 May 2006 at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris. AFP PHOTO/ PASCAL PAVANI (Photo credit should read PASCAL PAVANI/AFP/Getty Images)

Zidane knows Silvestre’s traits well.

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Real Madrid, Man United and Lionel Messi all discussed in Sport360’s UEFA Champions League 2017/18 predictions

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Champions League football returns this week (September 12).

Our Sport360 team place their reputations on the line and make 2017-18 UEFA Champions League predictions, including – winners, surprise package, flops and top goalscorer.

Who do you see claiming glory next May?

And who will flatter to deceive?

Get in touch!

Share your thoughts via Twitter and Facebook.

STUART APPLEBY

Winners: Real Madrid. They have the experience and talent to land a third-consecutive title.
Dark horses: Napoli. Quality-ridden up front, Maurizio Sarri’s men can upset anyone.
Flops: Liverpool. Likely to struggle defensively against Europe’s best sides.
Top scorer: Antoine Griezmann. Diego Simeone’s men always go far.

Real Madrid's defender Sergio Ramos (L) smiles beside the trophy celebrating the team's win from an onpen decker bus on Plaza Cibeles in Madrid on June 4, 2017 after the UEFA Champions League football match final Juventus vs Real Madrid CF held at the National Stadium of Wales in Cardiff on June 3, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / OSCAR DEL POZO (Photo credit should read OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP/Getty Images)

Will Ramos lift the trophy for a third successive time?

CHRIS BAILEY

Winners: Man City. They have not messed around this summer. Expect them to gel in time for May.
Dark Horses: RB Leipzig. With Timo Werner and Naby Keita, the debutants could surprise.
Flops: Tottenham. Another group stage exit beckons after under-investment.
Top scorer: Lionel Messi. Neymar is out of the picture and more records await.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 09: Lionel Messi of Barcelona looks on during the La Liga match between Barcelona and Espanyol at Camp Nou on September 9, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images)

Always in the goals: Messi.

ALEX BROUN

Winners: It has to be either Juventus or Real Madrid and I’m going with Juve, Dybala the x-factor.
Dark Horses: Liverpool. Unlike the Premier League they still have a fear factor in Europe.
Flops: Bayern Munich. Not as strong as in previous seasons, vulnerable.
Top scorer: Neymar. After all the move drama, he’ll want to make a statement.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 09: Jurgen Klopp of Liverpool looks on during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Liverpool at Etihad Stadium on September 9, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

The Reds have been tipped to shine.

NIALL MCCAGUE

Winners: Real Madrid. When Ronaldo, Isco and Benzema fire, they can beat anyone.
Dark horses: Manchester United. If they can continue strong start, no reason can’t go far.
Flops: Liverpool. Have yet to demonstrate their class against big opposition.
Top scorer: Lionel Messi. The Barcelona star continues to hum with godliness.

Manchester United's English defender Chris Smalling (L), Manchester United's French striker Anthony Martial (2L), Manchester United's English midfielder Jesse Lingard (C), Manchester United's English defender Luke Shaw (2R) and Manchester United's Spanish midfielder Juan Mata attends a team training session at the club's training complex near Carrington, west of Manchester in north west England on September 11, 2017, on the eve of their UEFA Champions League Group A football match against FC Basel. / AFP PHOTO / Paul ELLIS (Photo credit should read PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Man United return to the European big time.

MATT MONAGHAN

Winners: Paris Saint-Germain. Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and no other real distractions.
Dark horses: Besiktas. Have steadily built up a strong side capable of creating shocks.
Flops: Atletico Madrid. Have lost some of their lustre. Tough group beckons.
Top scorer: Mbappe. Will add many more to his brilliant six from last season.

Besiktas' new Portuguese defender Pepe smiles during his signing ceremony with the club on July 5, 2017, at the Vodafone Park stadium in Istanbul. Portuguese international defender Pepe on July 5 arrived in Istanbul to join Turkish champions Besiktas from Real Madrid on a two-year deal. According to the NTV Spor website, Pepe will receive an annual salary of 3.35 million euros ($3.8 million), plus performance bonuses, as well as a sign-on fee of three million euros. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE (Photo credit should read OZAN KOSE/AFP/Getty Images)

Besiktas have a Champions League winner in their ranks with Pepe.

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Marcus Rashford, Ousmane Dembele and the other young stars to watch out for in the Champions League

Sport360 staff 11/09/2017

With the Champions League proper returning this week, Europe's premier club competition will once again offer a stage for some of the continent's brightest young talents, some already established, some looking to make a name for themselves, and some looking to rejuvenate their careers.

Marcus Rashford belongs firmly in the first group despite being only 19. His remarkable rise to stardom began in Europe, when he scored a brace on debut for Manchester United against Midtjylland in the Europa League, but he has yet to play in the Champions League.

Likewise, Ousmane Dembele is no new face, and indeed starred for Borussia Dortmund in last year's Champions League, but the 20-year-old has a different level of attention on him after becoming Barcelona's record signing last month, and his form will go far in determining the Spanish club's fortunes this season.

Anderlecht's Leander Dendoncker and his former club team-mate Youri Tielemans, now at Monaco, will be looking for performances on the big stage that justify the hype that has surrounded both players. With Monaco having reached the semi-finals last year, Tielemans will be among the players relied upon as the team look to hit the same heights in this campaign. Have a look at the gallery above to see the other young players to watch out for in this season's Champions League.

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