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Manchester City vs Manchester United – Combined XI

Manchester City meet Manchester United in the FA Cup final at Wembley this weekend, the first-ever Manchester Derby in a domestic cup final.

It promises to be a must-watch occasion under the arch as the fierce rivals go head-to-head for the trophy, with Erik ten Hag’s Manchester United side hoping to end City’s hopes of winning a historic treble.

The Red Devils are the only team in English football history to win a Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League treble, but that status is under serious threat from Pep Guardiola’s side, who will start the final as favourites.

Ahead of the clash, we’ve chosen our Manchester City vs Manchester United combined XI.

Goalkeeper: Ederson – Manchester City

David de Gea might have ended the season with the Premier League’s Golden Glove, but question marks remain over the Spaniard’s distribution and ability to adapt to the demands of modern goalkeepers in possession.

Ederson has been the benchmark for that latter quality since arriving at Manchester City in 2017, becoming recognised as arguably the world’s best with the ball at his feet.

The current campaign has not been his finest individually, but the Brazilian has been essential to Pep Guardiola’s plan when building from the back. He has racked up the honours at the Etihad, lifting five Premier League titles, five domestic cups and three Golden Glove accolades.

Right-back: Kyle Walker – Manchester City

Kyle Walker has continually risen to the challenges Pep Guardiola has presented him in recent seasons, adapting his game from a buccaneering bullet train of a defender to an inverted full-back who tucks inside to make key contributions centrally.

This season the 33-year-old spent time out of the side as Guardiola changed to a defensive shape without traditional full-backs, but Walker again proved his worth with a fine run of performances across the run-in.

His duel with Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior during the Champions League semi-finals was box-office viewing and Walker remains a formidable opponent for any winger in Europe.

He has shown few signs of slowing down and was clocked as the fastest footballer in the Premier League during the 2022/23 campaign.

Centre-back: John Stones – Manchester City

John Stones has reached cult favourite status at Manchester City with the defender’s name often chorusing around the Etihad this season.

Stones has had a superb campaign for Pep Guardiola’s side, a footballer whose positional intelligence and flexibility has facilitated the team’s transformative change in shape. The 28-year-old has started nominally at centre-back or full-back before roaming forward into midfield, offering defensive security alongside Rodri and a reliable option when in possession.

Stones ranks in the 96th percentile for centre-backs in Europe’s top five leagues for pass completion this season and above the 90th for attempted passes, progressive passes and progressive carries.

Centre-back: Ruben Dias – Manchester City

Ruben Dias’ return has been a major factor in City’s fine form during the season’s run in, with the defender a pivotal part of the team’s improvement since returning from a hamstring injury.

Pep Guardiola’s side have lost six times in all competitions this season, but just one – a 1-0 defeat at Liverpool in October – has come with Dias in the side. The Portugal international is a natural leader and provides a presence at the heart of the defence, a centre-back who is willing to throw his body on the line for the cause whenever required.

The 26-year-old has now won consecutive league titles in each of his three seasons at the Etihad, while his importance to the side is evidenced in the statistics this season. City have conceded just 20 goals in the 36 games Dias has featured in and has kept 19 clean sheets.

Left-back: Luke Shaw – Manchester United

Nathan Ake has had a fantastic season deputising on occasion at left-back for Manchester City, but Luke Shaw is the standout option for this combined side.

The England international has had another impressive season at Manchester United and has shown a maturity to his game when asked to fill in at centre-back for Erik ten Hag.

Full of energy and technically excellent, he has all the attributes required of a modern full-back and remains a key figure for club and country.

Midfield: Rodri – Manchester City

Rodri is the heartbeat of the Manchester City side having evolved into arguably world football’s best defensive midfielder under Pep Guardiola.

The Spaniard oozes calm under pressure, rarely picks the wrong pass and manipulates both the ball and his body well to evade opposition pressure. Rodri is as press-resistant as midfielders come and led his positional peers for touches, passes into the final third and pass completion in the Premier League this season.

Sergio Busquets this week said Rodri would be his ideal candidate to replace him as Barcelona’s pivot in midfield. Compliments don’t come much better than that, with Busquets the benchmark for the position.

Midfield: Casemiro – Manchester United

Manchester United fans might just argue that their defensive midfield anchor in the Premier League’s finest, following Casemiro’s instant impact at Old Trafford.

The Brazilian arrived with a huge reputation after winning five Champions League titles at Real Madrid, but has lived up to expectations with a series of dominant midfield performances that have contributed to Champions League qualification.

Combative and committed but elegant in possession, Casemiro has transformed a malfunctioning Manchester United midfield this season. His battle with Manchester City’s cast of creatives will be crucial to determining this weekend’s final.

Midfield: Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City

Kevin De Bruyne remains the most consistent creative force in the Premier League and led the division once again for assists this season.

The Belgium international continues to enhance his argument as one of the Premier League’s all-time greats and became just the fifth footballer to reach a century of assists in the division earlier this season, achieving the feat in record time.

His chemistry with Erling Haaland has been one of the driving forces in City’s season, with each benefitting from the other’s brilliance in a productive partnership of chances created and goals scored.

Right-wing: Bernardo Silva – Manchester City

Bernardo Silva is rarely overlooked when it comes to the biggest games. In a squad as talented as this Manchester City side, it is a testament to the qualities he provides.

At his best, the midfielder is a mesmerising mix of work-rate and wizardry, a footballer who leads the press and covers every blade of grass, but remains bewitching in possession. The Portugal international was outstanding in the club’s destruction of Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals, scoring twice and tormenting the 14-time European champions all evening.

He has been open to an exit in search of a new challenge in recent transfer windows, but Guardiola has shown reluctance to allow the 28-year-old to leave. There’s good reason for that.

Left-wing: Marcus Rashford – Manchester United

Marcus Rashford’s renaissance has been one of the feel-good stories of the campaign, with the Manchester United forward bouncing back from a difficult period to produce the best form of his career.

Rashford has become the first player in a decade to score 30 goals in a season for the Red Devils and the first to do so since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement.

The 25-year-old scored the winner as Erik ten Hag’s team staged a late turnaround to beat Manchester City at Old Trafford earlier this season and will hope to end a career-best campaign with another memorable moment this weekend.

Forward: Erling Haaland – Manchester City

Erling Haaland leads the line in our side following a record-breaking season at Manchester City.

In truth, Haaland would start in any combined side created in world football right now, such has been his impact in the Premier League.

The Norwegian scored a record 36 league goals as City were crowned champions and has 52 in all competitions – the highest recorded in a single season for an English club since 1928.

Haaland has broken records at an astonishing rate this season and is on the verge of history as City chase the treble. Success in their upcoming finals will make the 22-year-old the favourite for the Ballon d’Or.

Read – Five of the most memorable Manchester Derby moments

Read Also – Noughties Nines: Carlos Tevez – El Apache

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