With the mouth-watering Champions League tie between Real Madrid and Manchester United just hours away, here is the ultimate combined XI using the squads of the the reigning La Liga champions and Premier League leaders.
Goalkeeper: David De Gea (Manchester United)
Age: 22 | Edges Out: Diego Lopez
With Iker Casillas out injured, it's a tough choice to choose one of Diego Lopez and David De Gea. Lopez has been really good during his time at Villarreal and Sevilla, but the Manchester United keeper just edges him out. De Gea is a great shot-stopper, maybe one of the best in the Premier League and has improved a lot this season compared to his debut campaign in England. He has a weakness in him and it's the physical side of the game, but I doubt today's game will exploit that.
Right-back: Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid)
Age: 30 | Edges Out: Rafael
Alvaro Arbeloa is Real Madrid's and Spain's number one choice right-back, and it just shows how much he has improved since joining Los Blancos from Liverpool. He has been very consistent during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu and his experience in the big games is the key for his selection ahead of Rafael. The Brazilian, on the other hand, is having his best season at Old Trafford and is a huge threat going forward but is suspect defensively.
Centre-back: Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United)
Age: 31 | Edges Out: Rio Ferdinand, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans
Despite being troubled by injuries in recent times, Nemanja Vidic remains Manchester United's best centre-back and it's no surprise that United have conceded so many goals in his absence. The Serbian is the best example of a no-nonsense defender and is a leader on the pitch. Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans both have had good seasons so far, but none are as solid as Vidic is at the back. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones haven't played much because of their respective injury worries, but are surely the ones for the future.
Centre-back: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
Age: 26 | Edges Out: Pepe, Raul Albiol, Raphael Varane and Ricardo Carvalho
Sergio Ramos has to be one of the most consistent defenders in world football. The Spaniard had a great European Championship and is at the peak of his game. He is a complete defender, someone who isn't afraid to have the ball at his feet and a perfect candidate to partner Vidic in the team. Pepe is solid at the back but very similar to Vidic, while Raphael Varane was very good against Barcelona in the recent El Clasico but is very inexperienced for games of this magnitude, whilst Raul Albiol and Ricardo Carvalho haven't played much this season.
Left-back: Patrice Evra (Manchester United)
Age: 31 | Edges Out: Fabio Coentrao and Marcelo
Patrice Evra has been outstanding this season for Manchester United after being one of the weak links in the team last term. Sometimes the wingers isolate and get the better of him, but his experience to perform in the big games and his recent goalscoring run has been very impressive. Fabio Coentrao was very good during the summer for Portugal but he has recently established himself as the first-choice at Madrid ahead of Marcelo, who isn't as good defensively as Coentrao or Evra.
Centre-midfield: Michael Carrick (Manchester United)
Age: 31 | Edges Out: Tom Cleverley, Anderson and Paul Scholes
Robin van Persie and Evra have been superb for Manchester United this season, but Michael Carrick has been one of their unsung heroes. The former Tottenham man is highly under-rated in the Premier League and the passes he sees are just excellent. Tom Cleverley has had a breakthrough year and has been very good for United but not as good as Carrick. Anderson too has been good this season but in patches, while Paul Scholes hasn't featured a lot since the first couple of months.
Centre-midfield: Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid)
Age: 31 | Edges Out: Luka Modric and Sami Khedira
Is there any better deep-lying playmaker than Xabi Alonso in world football right now? I doubt it. The former Liverpool man's reputation has continued to rise since his big-money move to the Bernabeu, and Alonso is one of the first names on the Real Madrid teamsheet. His ability to put in those dangerous killer passes and to find the man perfectly are second to none. He is a winner and has won almost everything with club and country. Luka Modric was good for Tottenham last season and for Croatia at the Euros, but he has found life difficult in Spain and hasn't been used a lot by Jose Mourinho, while Sami Khedira could easily be a regular starter for most of the teams in Europe, but he isn't as good as Alonso.
Right-wing: Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid)
Age: 24 | Edges Out: Antonio Valencia, Angel di Maria and Nani
This was one of the toughest choices to make of all. Mesut Ozil was exceptional last season and played a very important role in helping Real Madrid win the league title, but this year he has struggled. He has immense talent and potential in him, and on that merit he gets into the team ahead of Antonio Valencia and Angel di Maria. Both Valencia and Di Maria had a great 2011/12 campaign, but this year both have been average at best. Meanwhile, Nani has struggled with injuries and has been poor throughout the season, with many United fans becoming increasingly frustrated with the Portuguese winger.
Attacking-midfield: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
Age: 27 | Edges Out: Kaka
After selecting Ozil out on the right, it was a no-brainer as to who would play in the number 10 role just behind the main striker - Wayne Rooney. The Englishman had a tough start to the season but he is hitting top form at the right time. He has developed a very good understanding with Robin Van Persie and the duo form a lethal partnership in front of goal. Kaka was the only other candidate for this position in the team but he has been completely out of favour since the arrival of Jose Mourinho. It's very sad to see the former Player of the Year spending most of the time warming the bench and not on the field, but that's football.
Left-wing: Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
Age: 28 | Edges Out: Shinji Kagawa, Ashley Young and Ryan Giggs
If choosing a right-winger one was the toughest choices to make, then this was the easiest. Cristiano Ronaldo has been in tremendous form for both Real Madrid and Portugal and he has continued to get better and better. He has been scoring goals for fun and is an asset any manager would love to have in his team. Shinji Kagawa hasn't had a major impact since his move from Borussia Dortmund, while Ashley Young has been very inconsistent and has spent most of this season on the treatment table. Ryan Giggs, on the other hand, has performed way better than both Kagawa and Young.
Striker: Robin van Persie (Manchester United)
Age: 29 | Edges Out: Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain, and Javier Hernandez
Finally, it has to be Robin van Persie leading the line. The Dutchman has been superb all season since his move from Arsenal in the summer and at times has almost single-handedly won games for Manchester United. He has faced tough competition from the likes Karim Benzema, Gonzalo Higuain and Javier Hernandez for the place in this team, but fully deserves his starting berth. Benzema hasn't been good at all compared to his goalscoring exploits of last season, while Higuain has been very wasteful in front of goal. Hernandez has been more of a threat coming off the bench and Danny Welbeck does not make the team based on work-rate alone.
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