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Schmeichel tips Dortmund for Champions League glory

updated 4:50 PM EST, Wed December 19, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Peter Schmeichel forecasts Borussia Dortmund to win the European Champions League
  • Schmeichel won the Champions League with Manchester United in 1999
  • The Dane says Barcelona can be stopped, as Chelsea proved last season
  • Schmeichel suggest Jose Mourinho can guide Real Madrid into the latter stages

(CNN) -- Former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel is backing Borussia Dortmund to cause a shock and win the European Champions League.

Schmeichel captained United to European club football's biggest prize in 1999 and believes Jurgen Klopp's German champions have the ability clinch Europe's premier competition.

"I'm looking at Dortmund this time," the Dane, who skippered United as they secured a dramatic 2-1 win over Bayern Munich 13 years ago, told CNN, ahead of Thursday's last -16 draw.

"They've surprised everyone; they've put everything they have into the Champions League.

"They're behind in the league, as champions, which is not great, but they play exciting football. I think they have one of the managers for the future; the big clubs will certainly try and get him."

Read: Messi commits his future to Barcelona

Klopp has led Dortmund to back-to-back German titles and guided the 1997 Champions League winners to the top of a group which contained Real Madrid, Manchester City and Ajax after failing to reach the knockout stages last season.

"I think we'll get a surprise this year and I'm leaning a little bit towards Dortmund," continued Schmeichel. "They play such a great game which fits the Champions League. Maybe we will have a surprise winner."

In addition to Dortmund, Schmeichel also talked up the chances of Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The Catalan side have won all but one of their Spanish League matches and, in Lionel Messi, possess a player who has scored a record 90 goals in 2012.

Blog: Is Barca's Vilanova coach of the year?

Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart of confronts a pitch invader at the end of his side's 3-2 derby defeat by Manchester United, whose defender Rio Ferdinand (at back) was left with a bloody face after being hit by a coin thrown from the crowd. Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart of confronts a pitch invader at the end of his side's 3-2 derby defeat by Manchester United, whose defender Rio Ferdinand (at back) was left with a bloody face after being hit by a coin thrown from the crowd.
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However, Schmeichel suggested Barca's opponents could take heart from Chelsea's defeat of the four-time European champions at the semifinal stage last season.

"We know how to stop Barcelona now because we saw what Chelsea did," said the former Danish international keeper.

"It requires a little bit of luck and Chelsea had that, but I don't think you can beat Barcelona over two games without having played well.

"You could see the confusion of the Barca players -- they didn't have a plan B and I think you need to have that.

"You need to have more than one style of playing in the Champions League and I think that's why it is interesting to follow Barcelona -- how are they going to react now? But Barcelona will always be the team to beat."

By way of comparision, Schmeichel feels that Real Madrid have a coach in Jose Mourinho who can adapt a team to any situation.

Real have endured a torrid start to the La Liga season and sit 13 points off table-toppers Barca, but Schmeichel suggests Mourinho could be the man to lead Real to a much-coveted 10th European crown.

I think we'll get a surprise this year and I'm leaning a little bit towards Dortmund
Peter Schmeichel

"We've seen this with Mourinho when he was at Chelsea and Inter Milan," added Schmeichel.

"They are very, very hot and then they are cold. But when it comes to the Champions League and Mourinho, it is a guarantee they will be there or thereabouts because he's a master in that tournament.

"With Mourinho there is a plan B, a plan C, you can carry on. He can set his team up in so many different ways."

If United is the club which remains closest to Schmeichel's heart, the Dane argues manager Sir Alex Ferguson needs to find a quick solution to a defense which has shipped 30 goals in 23 league and Champions League matches.

"We have been defending terribly this year and even Alex is out there now publicly stating we have to improve," admitted Schmeichel. "Every game we have to score three goals to win the game, you're under too much pressure.

"Three goals is a lot to score in the Champions League, I'm not saying its impossible but at this stage of the competition, it is really tough. You have to stop conceding."

Schmeichel hopes the recent return of defender Nemanja Vidic, who has suffered an injury-ravaged 12 months, will help shore up United's shaky backline.

"He's basically been out for a year. He came back against Sunderland, it was great to see him there and we're all hoping he is going to be the player he was. We need him for his leadership, but we need him for his defending as well."

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