Forget Barcelona vs. Real Madrid. While it doesn't have the political or cultural or sporting history of the aforementioned El Clasico, Liverpool vs. Manchester City is the best rivalry in European soccer right now: arguably the two best teams in the world, duking it out across multiple competitions.

It needs a better name -- any suggestions? -- but the high-stakes matchups between the two have not disappointed: Liverpool's 4-1 win in January 2018; the electric Champions League quarterfinal tie that same year; City's Hawkeye-aided victory that ultimately clinched the league title for them in January 2019; City's 4-1 demolition of a reeling Liverpool last February; and this season's thrilling, back-and-forth four-goal second half at Anfield. The best players and best managers in the world really do seem to bring out the best in each other.

This year, in particular, both squads seem to be deeper and more tactically diverse than ever before. Both City and Liverpool go two-deep and sometimes three-deep with great players at almost every position on the field, and it's led to this: with eight games remaining, the two sides are one point apart and Sunday's meeting at the Etihad is the closest thing the Premier League will get to a title match.

So, ahead of arguably the highest stakes high-stakes game between Jurgen Klopp's and Pep Guardiola's sides yet, Mark Ogden and I decided to team up and draft our own teams from the pool of Liverpool and City players. Who goes first? Who goes last? Who gets snubbed? Keep reading to find out.



O'Hanlon selects ... Virgil van Dijk, center-back, Liverpool. I know I'm supposed to be the "numbers guy" here or whatever, but we're trying to corner the market on immaculate, winning vibes with the first overall pick.

There aren't any data points that truly quantify VVD's impact. Well, other than this one: with the gigantic Dutchman in the lineup, Liverpool have collected results at a 38-game pace of 93 points since he arrived in January 2018. Only five teams in Premier League history have won more than 93 points in a season.

With VVD mopping up counterattacks, scaring opponents into paralysis, spreading possession calmly and powering in goals off set pieces, he raises our ceiling and floor in a way that no other center-back in the world can.

Ogden selects ... Mohamed Salah, forward, Liverpool. I can't argue with Ryan's first pick. Despite the strength of both squads, Van Dijk would probably be the first name on any team sheet, and I do wonder how much City regret pulling out of the race to sign him from Southampton in January 2018. Had City signed Van Dijk, just where would Liverpool be now? Anyway, back to my pick!

Football is all about match winners, the players who put the ball in the back of the net, and Salah is the ultimate big-game player for Liverpool. I know that leaves Ryan with some great options for his second pick, but I couldn't leave Salah on the table.