Sir Alex Ferguson has made no secret of his desire to win the Champions League this season and has stated his belief that the Red Devils are strong enough to win Europe's biggest prize.

Sir Alex Ferguson

"I made a point about how strong the Champions League is and therefore we'll need to perform at a really high level to do that. You cannot go past Real Madrid and Barcelona, that's fair to say, and I do think Dortmund will be there or thereabouts this year," Ferguson explained.

"If you look at their league form, 11 points behind Bayern Munich, you can tell they're preparing themselves to do well in the Champions League. Those three teams have outstanding chances and I hope we can join them because we have a good squad of players," the United manager added.

The Scot is pleased with United's attacking form this season - the Old Trafford club has scored 38 goals in 15 games, across all competitions. Moreover, the goals have been distributed across his squad, with as many as 15 different players finding the back of the net so far this season. The best news is summer signing, Robin van Persie, has picked up where he left off last season with Arsenal. The Dutch striker, who scored 36 goals last season, already has 10 to his name this year.

However, the good news up front is balanced by continuing concern over United's back line. The manager admitted the absence of club captain Nemanja Vidic and youngsters, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones, has been less than ideal. Jones and Vidic are both still unavailable and while Smalling is back training, he is still short of match sharpness. The 22 year old is in Portugal with the team though, and is expected to play some part in the Champions League group stage clash against Braga. England veteran Rio Ferdinand, meanwhile, is likely to be rested, ahead of the weekend's league fixture at Villa Park.

"Obviously we've got some work to do on the defending part, but the encouraging thing is that bit by bit we're collecting a good collection of outstanding young midfielders which I'm really pleased about," the Scot explained, adding, "Chris has travelled and will be involved. It's really good news because since the start of the season we've been operating on the borderline of defenders having to play all the time. And we've had to play Michael Carrick as centre-back."

The first match between these two, at Old Trafford, ended in a 3-2 win for the hosts. United are presently on top of Group H, with nine points from three games and require only a point to confirm progress to the knock-out stages.