Which players make a combined XI between two of Ligue 1's top teams?
Both teams are playing extremely well at the moment. OM have won eight straight games and Lyon are unbeaten in six. It is a throwback to when both teams were on top of the tree in Ligue 1, and tonight is primed to be one of the biggest games of the season.
Under the guidance of coaches Marcelo Bielsa and Hubert Fournier, the two former heavyweights in France are playing some of the best football in the league. They both have talented squads to choose from, but which players would make a combined XI?
Here is a combined XI from the best players of Marseille and Lyon.
In goal it is hard to choose between the experienced Steve Mandanda and the younger Anthony Lopes, but for OM, Mandanda has impressive coming back from a serious injury at the end of last season. Lopes is definitely one for the future, but Mandanda still has the edge.
In defence, both sides started slowly but have impressed as their new coaches have gotten their methods across and performances have improved. Christophe Jallet came under a lot of scrutiny at Paris Saint-Germain, but has been in great form for Lyon at right-back.
Lyon’s improvement in defence coincided with the return of Milan Bisevac; the veteran Serbian defender brings calmness to OL’s back four and is a must-pick. Beside him, it’s hard to ignore the return to form of Nicolas N’Koulou this season. He struggled as OM under-performed last season, but now under Bielsa he is back close to his best.
On the left, it is hard to choose between Benjamin Mendy and Henri Bedimo. After starting the season injured, Bedimo has done well to get up to speed, but he hasn’t quite matched the attacking displays of Marseille’s Mendy. His left-footed deliveries have been superb at times, setting up a number of OM’s goals this season.
Up front there is little doubt who you have to pick. With 18 goals between them; no one can touch Andre-Pierre Gignac and Alexandre Lacazette.
Midfield is a little more difficult, with a handful of players all impressing. Playing them in Lyon’s midfield diamond, you have to have Maxime Gonalons over OM’s Alaixys Romao; he is playing some of the best football of his career.
Ahead of Gonalons, it has to be reported Chelsea target Gianelli Imbula and Lyon’s Jordan Ferri. Imbula has looked re-born under Bielsa, driving OM forward and becoming a danger all over the pitch. Ferri has been OL’s all-round utility man. Strong tackling, driving runs and superb passing, away from the front three, he is one of Lyon’s most creative elements.
Then in the No. 10 position, it has to be Yoann Gourcuff. Back from injury, he has slowly found his feet, and now looks like the creative, experience leader that Lyon have been lacking. Hopefully he can stay fit. He just edges out Lyon’s Nabil Fekir, who has been superb this season.
When it is so hard to pick a mixed XI, you know it is going to be a special game.
Team: GK Mandanda (OM) – RB Jallet (OL), CB N’Koulou (OM), CB Bisevac (OL), LB Mendy (OM) – DM Gonalons (OL), CM Ferri (OL), CM Imbula (OM), AM Gourcuff (OL) – CF Lacazette (OL), CF Gignac (OM)