Manchester United vs Barcelona Combined XI

Image result for messi and pogba
Image from Sky Sports
Manchester United have had a break from Premier League action this weekend, and hopefully have had time to sort themselves out after a disappointing loss to Wolverhampton Wanderers last Tuesday. It was so disappointing after McTominay's strike gave United the lead but two mistakes and an inability to kill the game off saw United sink to sixth after wins from Tottenham and Chelsea the day after. Now United host Barcelona in the Champions League Quarter Finals in their final attempt to earn some silverware for this season. Barcelona have been outstanding this season as they sit eleven points ahead of Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga and remain unbeaten in the league since early November when they lost 3-4 at home to Real Betis. Recently they came from 4-2 down against Villarreal to draw 4-4 and yesterday they scraped a 2-0 win over Atletico Madrid with late goals from Luis Suarez and the ever-present Lionel Messi. While United have some very good players, many would struggle to get into the Barcelona team, let alone the starting XI nevertheless, here is a combined XI for Manchester United and Barcelona:

FORMATION: 4-3-3

GOALKEEPER: DAVID DE GEA
Marc-Andre ter Stegen is a fantastic goalkeeper and should take over from Neuer soon as Germany's no.1 but David de Gea is the best in the world. Despite having an average season after his Golden Glove success last year, he still shows his moments of brilliance against the likes of Tottenham, PSG and Juventus. Nevertheless with Messi and Suarez in white-hot form, David de Gea will have to be at his best if United are to get anything from the game.

RIGHT BACK: SERGI ROBERTO
The position of right back has not truly been set in stone since Gary Neville's retirement with many players trying and failing to nail down a starting role. Sergi Roberto converted from a central midfielder to a right back in the 2016/17 season and hasn't looked back as he is the preferred choice over natural right back Nelson Semedo. The Spaniard has notched six assists in La Liga which is more than United all of United's right backs combined (Young (2), Dalot (2), Valencia and Darmian (0)). He may get caught flat-footed by Martial and Rashford's pace, but the Spaniard was an easy choice at right back really...

CENTRE BACKS: GERARD PIQUE AND VICTOR LINDELOF
Gerard Pique is an ever-present figure in the Barcelona squad since leaving Manchester United in 2008 and has played all but two of their league games this season. The man has almost made 500 appearances for the Catalan giants in all competitions and scored 46 goals in his eleven year stint so far and will be a difficult player to beat on Wednesday. Victor Lindelof has truly shone this season and has been more consistent than any other centre back at Manchester United this season and with Umtiti struggling to get game time this season and Lenglet's discipline a serious issue for the young Frenchman, Lindelof is the prime candidate to partner Pique in the combined XI. 

LEFT BACK: JORDI ALBA
Luke Shaw has had a great season, but Jordi Alba is one of the best left backs in the world right now. Shaw may have more assists this season than he's ever had but Alba has notched eight in the league and three more in the Champions League even scoring a goal in both competitions. His pace and low balance makes him an excellent attacking fullback and may be a handful of trouble for Manchester United as Bernat turned out to be for PSG. United will probably have Dalot as a right winger to double up for Ashley Young and offer protection from Alba. 

MIDFIELD THREE: SERGIO BUSQUETS, PAUL POGBA AND PHILIPPE COUTINHO
Busquets is a fantastic defensive midfielder and has been so for some time, Matic is nowhere near the Spaniard despite being an excellent footballer himself. He truly created attacks from defence and allows the more attacking players in front of him to run free. Speaking of attacking players, the two players who could both be in Spain or England come deadline day are Paul Pogba and Philippe Coutinho. While Pogba has improved as the season continued, scoring eleven goals and setting nine more up, Coutinho has struggled this season but has still managed to score nine goals and set five more up in all competitions which fares better than every other central/attacking midfielder in both camps bar Pogba. 

WINGERS: ANTHONY MARTIAL AND LIONEL MESSI
United have no natural right wingers in their squad and Barcelona has the best in the world - easy choice as the Argentine has scored 33 goals in La Liga - the top goalscorer in La Liga this season and his goal against Atletico Madrid was his 606th career goal and 595th for the Barcelona first team. With Dembele injured, this was a coin-toss between Rashford and Martial, a battle going on since 2016! Rashford may have scored one more goal than the Frenchman this season (13) but Martial's composure and clinical finishing is something Rashford needs to work on as the young Englishman often makes the wrong decision in the final third. 

STRIKER: LUIS SUAREZ
The Uruguayan has 20 league goals and is the second highest goalscorer in La Liga, behind only Leo Messi. The former-Liverpool man will be a big danger for United as he comes short, makes devastating runs and score from outside the box with ease. Lukaku has improved recently and has looked very dangerous in the last ten games but Suarez is a world class striker and will need special attention from Smalling and/or Lindelof on Wednesday. 

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