Only two Man Utd players would get into the Man City team - and that's being kind

The gap between City and United is so great ahead of the Manchester derby that only two Red Devils would sneak into a combined XI of the two sides.

It's Manchester derby time when the inevitable questions resurface as to just how far United are behind 'noisy neighbours' City.

The Blue Moon has risen in Manchester since the arrival of the Abu Dhabi finances, and United have really struggled to keep pace both on and off the field.

They'll kick off at the Etihad on Sunday 19 points behind Pep Guardiola's title-chasers, and things are so bad for the Red Devils that even a victory, while bolstering their top-four hopes will also give fierce rivals Liverpool a helping hand!

Guardiola is a factor, with the managers coming and going at Old Trafford nowhere near his quality. But within the squad, while United always seem to have plenty of quality and a sprinkling of star names, even the brightest star of them all, Cristiano Ronaldo, doesn't seem to be able to make them title challengers.

Although United's squad should be doing better, just how many of them would even get into a City starting XI?

How Man City and Man Utd line-up

First off, let's take a look at the two teams and arguably their strongest line-ups. It's always a bit of a guess with Guardiola especially up top as he often plays without that one central striker.

Man City (4-3-3): Ederson, Walker, Stones, Dias, Cancelo, De Bruyne, Rodri, Gundogan, Foden, Silva, Sterling. Subs: Grealish, Mahrez, Jesus

Man Utd (4-2-3-1): De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Maguire, Varane, Shaw, McTominay, Fred, Fernandes, Pogba, Sancho, Ronaldo. Subs: Rashford, Cavani, Matic

Would any Man Utd players get into the Man City side?

The first thing that strikes you when you actually write out the teams is just how strong the City squad is, when you're having to leave out Gabriel Jesus, £100million man Jack Grealish or former Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez.

You could genuinely argue the case that none of the Man Utd side would be picked in that City side.

Yes, the likes of Paul Pogba, Cristiano Ronaldo, Bruno Fernandes and Raphael Varane are top players, but in the Champions League final would any of them actually get a starting spot?

Jadon Sancho is another who is top quality, but would he get in ahead of Sterling, Foden, Grealish or even Mahrez for one of those wide forward spots?

We can make a case for a couple of players to get into a combined XI, however.

David de Gea

David De Gea could just pip Ederson in goal

David de Gea is outstanding, and has been back to his very best this season having been man of the match in a number of games as United laboured.

Ederson is class as well, with his distribution right out of the top draw and it's a close-run thing between the two of them.

It's likely a tie, but on this season's stellar form then if De Gea was in goal for Man City you wouldn't really see any drop-off at all. And he is just a bit more likely to pull off that one worldie that could win or save a game.

Raphael Varane

Raphael Varane gets the nod ahead of Stones and Laporte

The French World Cup winner has not been a stand-out addition for Man Utd as yet, and has not made the impact a Virgil van Dijk or indeed Ruben Dias did when joining Liverpool and Man City, respectively.

The 28-year-old is still a class act though, and showed at Real Madrid that he can be a real presence at the back when playing in a better team.

Slotting him in alongside Dias would make the strongest central defensive pairing between the two squads - with Varane being better than John Stones and getting the nod ahead of Aymeric Laporte.

Who would Bruno Fernandes get in ahead of in Man City team?

Bruno Fernandes would be kept out by Kevin De Bruyne

Fernandes looked a world beater when he arrived at Old Trafford, but his star has dimmed ever since Ronaldo walked through the door, and with so many stars at the Etihad that could be a similar problem.

He'd also likely be going head-to-head with Kevin De Bruyne for a regular place, and that's just not a battle he could win.

Fernandes could play for City, and do very well for them, but picking a one-off side he'd just miss out.

Would Cristiano Ronaldo get in the Man City team?

Cristiano Ronaldo would struggle to get into the Man City team

Now, here's the big question, and this one kind of depends on what type of manager would hypothetically be taking charge of this combined side.

We know City were looking at Ronaldo and thought they had him in the bag this summer, so Guardiola obviously thought he could fit him into his side, so if it's good enough for him...

There's also no doubt, that if Ronaldo was given the freedom to hang around up front on his own, he'd bag a ridiculous amount of goals in this City team, finishing off all the creative work from Sterling, Foden, De Bruyne, Grealish and company.

Crucially as well, Guardiola probably had the Champions League in mind with Ronaldo, and providing that one big goal that would with them a tie or even the trophy.

There's a huge but coming though, and that's in the work ethic and tactics that Guardiola employs in his side, defending from the front and winning the ball back quickly in advanced areas, which Ronaldo simply won't do.

So Ronaldo would undoubtedly prosper, but you just couldn't include him in a combined XI.

Who would make a combined Man City and Man Utd team?

You could have a case for simply listing the full Man City team and be able to justify it, but there's just enough evidence to get a couple of Red Devils in that would bolster their side even more.

Combined Manchester XI: De Gea, Walker, Varane, Dias, Cancelo, Rodri, De Bruyne, Gundogan, Foden, Silva, Sterling.

READ MORE: Who are the four billionaires linked with buying out Roman Abramovich at Chelsea?

Latest news