Messi, Fernandes, Salah: Combined XI of Premier League and La Liga players

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La Liga is facing the prospect of having no teams in the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time since 2005.

With Barcelona, Sevilla and Atletico Madrid all trailing in the round of 16 after their first leg ties, Spanish hopes lie with Real Madrid or a series of dramatic comebacks in the reverse fixtures.

And with Atletico producing a particularly tepid performance during their 1-0 defeat to Chelsea despite topping La Liga, the debate surrounding Europe's finest league has been prized open once again.

Worrying times for Spanish football

Besides, you'd be hard-pressed to argue that a division other than La Liga held that title in recent years with Real and Sevilla hoovering up Champions League and Europa League trophies.

But with the Spanish quartet of Champions League clubs facing an early end to their European hopes, the Premier League is waiting in the wings to replace their teams at the top of the pyramid.

After all, Liverpool and Chelsea have both started the second round with away victories, while Manchester City are huge favourites to follow suit against Borussia Monchengladbach.

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Premier League vs La Liga

So, bearing all that in mind, it's easy to see why the Premier League is seriously knocking on the door to usurp La Liga as the greatest competition on the continent.

As such, here at GIVEMESPORT, we couldn't help wading into the debate by putting the finest players in both England and Spain's top-flight under the microscope to see how they shape up.

And although we don't profess to hold the answers behind which league is better, we've attacked the question from a unique angle by creating a combined XI of the competitions' best players.

A tricky challenge, I'm sure you'll agree, so we've based our picks on a variety of factors: their performances in recent years, form in the 2020/21 season and their statistical standing in Europe.

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Premier League and La Liga combined XI

And just as a heads up, we couldn't resist going all out with our starting XI, so cut us some slack with how top-heavy we've plotted it but otherwise, be sure to check out our final selection below:

GK: Jan Oblak (Atletico Madrid)

There is so much competition between the sticks and everyone from Alisson Becker to Ederson and Thibaut Courtois to Marc-Andre ter Stegen could have earned this jersey on a different day.

But despite Atletico's nightmarish week, it's done little to change our opinion that Oblak is the best goalkeeper in the world, conceding just 16 goals from 23 appearances in La Liga this season.

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CB: Ruben Dias (Manchester City)

A revelation in Pep Guardiola's back-line, Dias has taken to the Premier League like a duck to water, boasting a staggering record of 13 clean sheets and just nine goals conceded in 22 games.

CB: Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)

Yes, we're well aware that injuries have curtailed Ramos' season, but he still makes our XI on built-up credit from 2019/20 where he commanded La Liga's tightest defence and even scored 13 goals.

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CB: Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)

It might feel dirty to include a player that has spent the majority of the season injured, but we couldn't bring ourselves to leave out the world's best defender and a former Ballon d'Or runner-up.

RM: Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

An anomalous shining light amidst Liverpool's struggles this season, we had to make room for the leading goalscorer in the Premier League, who is eying up a third Golden Boot with 17 strikes.

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CM: Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City)

Gundogan is arguably the Premier League's best player on current form, chipping in with 11 goals from midfield to extend City's lead to 10 points and boost his chances of winning the PFA prize.

CM: Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)

What can be said about Fernandes that hasn't been said already!? I don't think we need to say any more than the United magician has racked up 22 goals and 11 assists from midfield this season.

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LM: Jack Grealish (Aston Villa)

Ranked above Cristiano Ronaldo and Kylian Mbappe by WhoScored statistics in 2020/21, the sky is the limit for Grealish in a stunning season that has seen him produce 16 league goal contributions.

CAM: Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

Do we need to justify this pick? Messi is arguably the best footballer in the world and undisputedly the highest-rated player on the continent, so he's the first name on the teamsheet here.

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ST: Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)

With a mind-blowing cocktail of 16 goals and 13 assists this season, there's not a number nine in either the Premier League or La Liga who is more complete than Tottenham's poacher in chief.

ST: Gerard Moreno (Villarreal)

This was a tough slot to fill and it's through gritted teeth that we leave out Luiz Suarez, who sits second in La Liga's scoring charts with 16 goals, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin was similarly in contention.

But with Moreno also in the hunt for the Pichichi Trophy on 14 strikes, ranking as the continent's fifth-best player this season and boasting five assists to boot, we had to give him the nod.

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Substitutes' bench: Ederson (Manchester City), Jules Koundé (Sevilla), Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City), Casemiro (Real Madrid), Mikel Oyarzabal (Real Sociedad), Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) and Luis Suarez (Atletico Madrid).

The Premier League edges it

So, all in all, we have just as many La Liga players in the match-day squad as we have Premier League talent, but it's the English top-flight that is better represented in the starting XI itself.

And it seems a fitting result, really, because although we're undecided on which European league is top, we do think that more Premier League players are standing out right now than La Liga stars.

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But regardless of the minutia of our XI, which we're certain has caused plenty of controversy, I think we can all agree that both the Premier League and La Liga are irreplaceable cogs in the European football engine.

Besides, if the Premier League does indeed assert its authority in the Champions League this season, you can bet that their Spanish neighbours will come back swinging in 2021/22.

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