Liverpool FC and Manchester United play each other in European competition for the very first time on Thursday night. And we thought, no better way to mark the occasion than picking the best players from each side and sticking them together in one combined XI.
This is what we have come up with…
GOALKEEPER – DAVID DE GEA
Also the number one for our St. David’s Day XI, David de Gea beats Simon Mignolet to be the first name on the teamsheet. The Manchester United goalkeeper is now being touted to take Manuel Neuer’s throne as the best keeper on the planet in the years to come. And at just 25 years of age, you wouldn’t bet against it.
RIGHT BACK – NATHANIEL CLYNE
The 24-year old has had an impressive debut season so far for Liverpool, adding both attacking threat and defensive stability down the right flank. The England international only narrowly beating Matteo Darmian to the spot.
CENTRE BACK – CHRIS SMALLING
Arguably United’s best players this season, Smalling has really come to his own in their back line. Now as the most senior defender of the side, he’s one of the first names on the teamsheet week-in, week-out and deservedly so. Louis van Gaal has praised Smalling for his great command of the defensive unit.
CENTRE BACK – MAMADOU SAKHO
A tight contest for the left centre back position between Sakho and Dejan Lovren. Lovren has really improved under Klopp and has strung together a few impressive performances of late. However, Sakho’s consistency for Liverpool has been key this season, and despite being injured and out for a couple weeks on occasion, his ability to slot right back into the side without hesitation has been superb.
LEFT BACK – DALEY BLIND
A close fought out battle between Blind and Alberto Moreno for the honour of left back in our combined XI. With Luke Shaw out injured for the season, United lacked natural left backs in the first team squad. Although Moreno has come a long way this season as a player, Blind’s adaptability across United’s back line is what gets him into the side.
DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER – MORGAN SCHNEIDERLIN
Not a key figure for Louis van Gaal this season, fighting to get back into the starting XI against injuries and a stacked United midfield, Schneiderlin’s ability when played has shone through and caught our eye. Liverpool’s Lucas has been asked to do many things this season, playing various positions, and deserves an honourable mention falling just short. As does Michael Carrick for his renaissance this season, defying his age.
CENTRE MIDFIELDER – JORDAN HENDERSON
Both sides stacked for centre midfielders, picking two has not been an easy choice. But, every side needs a captain and we’re throwing Jordan Henderson in the deep end as ours. Again, another one victim to injury this season, the English international has returned and been a catalyst for Liverpool’s performances against the big sides this season, leading the side with a cool head.
CENTRE MIDFIELDER – PHILIPPE COUTINHO
A technical partner to match the energetic and robust midfield counterpart, there was no way to look past Coutinho. Not consistently the greatest of the side, but definitely the player who can have the most impact. Able to create something out of nothing, score a worldy when you think it’s near impossible – the Brazilian is the side’s wild card.
RIGHT WING – JUAN MATA
Another magical technician to balance the side. United’s counter to Liverpool’s Coutinho, Mata is a player who can be two steps ahead of the opposition at any time. Also, the side’s set-piece taker – every XI needs one. A beautiful left-foot.
LEFT WING – ANTHONY MARTIAL
2015’s Golden Boy. The young Frenchman has taken the Premier League by storm this season. Coming from Monaco for an expensive fee, if he continues the way he has played this season, he’ll soon have earned the price tag. Liverpool know all too well themselves what this man is capable of, scoring a brilliant solo goal against them on his Premier League debut.
STRIKER – ROBERTO FIRMINO
An area stacked with quality, but one where form varies. From a list of Christian Benteke, Daniel Sturridge and Roberto Firmino for Liverpool and Wayne Rooney for United, there’s an abundance of talent to take the number nine spot. On performances this season, it has to be Firmino who grabs it. Benteke not yet firing, Sturridge only just returning from injury and Rooney misfiring until hitting form just before injury – Liverpool’s newest Samba Star deserves the position.
Any players you feel have wrongfully missed out? Let us know on social media!