Liverpool and PSG will be two of the favourites to win the UEFA Champions League this season.
The teams are two of the absolute best in the world and feature some of the absolute best players.
The French giants have had one of the best transfer windows in the history of the game this summer.
They have signed one of the best goalkeepers in the world in Gigio Donnarumma, one of the best right-backs in the world in Achraf Hakimi and one of the best central midfielders in the world in Gini Wijnaldum.
They have also added a genuine megastar at centre-back in Sergio Ramos, although he is past his best.
There was someone else too, but we cannot quite remember who… that’s it! They made Danilo Pereira’s loan from Porto permanent.
Oh yes, they did manage to pick up possibly the best player of all time on a free transfer too.
It is clear that they are going to have an absolutely incredible side next season.
Yet we have often advocated that Liverpool have possibly the best starting XI on the planet, if everyone is fit.
Even without new signings this summer.
So, we have decided to compare the two first-choice sides to have a look at who really does have the best team in the world.
The ground rules
Ideally, both teams would play the same formation and have a regular 11 players that play week in, week out. This way, we could compare keeper and keeper, right centre-back and right centre-back, left-winger and left-winger, etc.
Unfortunately, that is not the case.
Liverpool religiously play with a 4-3-3. Fans would be able to name their best team without much issue.
There are only two positions that are up for debate. These are who partners Virgil van Dijk at centre-back and who plays up front: Diogo Jota or Roberto Firmino.
We will give the edge to Joel Matip at the back (just about), while we will persist with Firmino for now, although we expect this to change in the coming months.
Here is our first-choice Liverpool XI:
Meanwhile, nobody knows exactly how PSG are going to line up as the season progresses.
How do you fit five new men into a side already containing numerous superstars? You ever hear of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe?
Mauricio Pochettino has played a 4-3-3/4-3-2-1 hybrid in their opening two Ligue 1 games. But they were missing a lot of their best players.
If all of their squad is fully fit, their best XI is probably best-fitted into a 3-4-3.
They have three top centre-backs, an elite right-wingback, two top centre-midfielders and four great forwards.
Yet three of these attackers are absolutely top-level. There is also a gap at left-wingback.
So, does that fourth attacker, Angel Di Maria, drop back to a wingback role? It might make some sense, and rumour has it that this could be the plan.
Here is the PSG XI that we are working with:
First, we will compare every player in their position, before we do a mix-and-match combined XI at the end, just for fun.
That is probably the most efficient way to go about it, so here we go.
Starting off in goals, PSG already have a selection headache of their own. They simply could not pass up on the chance to sign Donnarumma on a free this summer.
Yet Keylor Navas has been exceptional for them since he joined from Real Madrid.
It is clear that Donnarumma will be the No 1 in future, but will Navas keep his place for now?
We give the Euro 2020 Player of the Tournament the edge.
However, Alisson trumps them both.
The Brazilian is the best keeper in the world in our eyes and is simply a level ahead of the two PSG net-minders.
Ok, let’s get the fullbacks out of the way.
For us, Achraf Hakimi is undoubtedly the best wingback in the world. But is he the best right-back?
No. Because it is Trent Alexander-Arnold.
They are the top two in the world in their position, but the Scouser has the edge.
At left-back, pitting Angel di Maria against Andy Robertson is slightly unfair. Di Maria is a great player, but Robertson is the best left-back on earth.
Next up, Marquinhos shades Joel Matip in the right centre-back slot. Matip is every bit as good as the PSG captain, but fitness means that he hasn’t got the chance to show us.
Unfortunately, we have to give it to Marquinhos due to his form of the last two years.
Virgil van Dijk is better than Presnel Kimpembe, so takes our left centre-back slot.
Now, I hear you. What about Sergio Ramos?
Well, because of the formation difference, we will have to pit the central defender of the three up against the Liverpool defensive midfielder.
Even if we did pit the Spaniard up against van Dijk, the Liverpool man wins it all day.
Ramos is 35 now and barely played for Real Madrid last season. We always thought that he was overrated anyway, but he is coming to the end of his career now and simply isn’t as good as he once was.
But does he get in ahead of Liverpool’s defensive midfielder to make this team a 3-4-3?
Defence: Alexander-Arnold, Marquinhos, van Dijk, Robertson
That’s because, in terms of out-and-out No 6’s, Fabinho is possibly the best around. He plays the sole 6 role to absolute perfection, and would have a better influence on the side than a third centre-back would.
Now, things get very interesting with the No 8 positions.
We all remember Georginio Wijnaldum, don’t we? Y’know, the guy who played for Liverpool for five years, helping us to Champions League and Premier League titles?
Well, he is now PSG’s right-sided central midfielder.
While he played more minutes than any other Reds midfielder last season, many believe that he wouldn’t have been a regular there if it wasn’t for injuries.
So, Liverpool’s captain Jordan Henderson beats him here, considering he was ahead of him in the pecking order during their time together.
And now we have our most difficult decision.
Thiago or Marco Veratti?
Two players that are similar in style and absolutely top, top class.
The thing with Thiago is that people seem to have forgotten how good he really is. If this was a few months from now and he had put together a few games at his best level for Liverpool, it probably wouldn’t be a question.
But then again, Veratti is one of the best around too, and would be seen in an even brighter light if he didn’t suffer with injury.
We’ll give it to Thiago, but don’t doubt our appreciation of the brilliant Italian.
Midfield: Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago
If we just forget about last season, then Liverpool have the best front three in the world.
Mo Salah and Sadio Mane are two of the best inverted wingers playing the game, while Bobby Firmino is the perfect facilitator.
In terms of ability and how well they work together, it was truly elite.
But last season did happen. Unfortunately, Mane and Firmino just didn’t click.
We do think that they still have big futures, but we cannot be 100% certain either.
Meanwhile, PSG potentially have one of the best front threes of all time on their hands.
Messi. Mbappe. Neymar.
Individually, three of the absolute best players of the 21st century, maybe even beyond.
There are questions to be asked about how they will click together. Who plays where, who will do the pressing, who will track back to defend?
It is a big one for Pochettino to work out.
But here, we are simply comparing players individually.
Again, who plays where? Messi and Neymar are both at their best in free roles off the right and left respectively, while Mbappe is best as an inverted left-winger.
We will put Messi right, Neymar left and Mbappe through the centre.
Mo Salah literally could not be more unlucky. There is no other right-winger in the world that would take this spot ahead of him apart from Leo Messi.
Mbappe is a better forward than Firmino too, even though they are completely different players.
If you asked us this time last year to choose between Sadio Mane and Neymar, we’d have gone for Mane and got abused by non-Liverpool fans.
But we cannot just forget last season. Neymar didn’t play a whole pile due to injury, but he was fantastic when he played.
That has been the story of his spell in France, to be fair. But he is the world’s most expensive player for a reason.
So, despite what we want, we simply have to overlook the Liverpool lads and give the three attacking positions to PSG.
Front three: Messi, Mbappe, Neymar
Conclusion: Liverpool vs PSG
So, in our opinion at least, Liverpool have shaded the tie with five players to four for PSG.
There was no denying that all of the positions were tight contests. The gaps between the duals were very minimal.
PSG may have more star names, in attack at least, but we think that Liverpool have a much more balanced XI.
We would love to see both teams at full strength come up against each other in the Champions League this season. A Liverpool vs PSG final would be a sight to behold.
As promised, here is the combined XI that we would go for if there was no position v position restrictions:
If there is one thing to take from this, it’s that fans should not panic about the lack of business in the transfer window.
Look at what PSG have had to do to still not be as good as Liverpool.
Yes, depth is needed, but the Reds really do have possibly the best starting line-up on the planet if everyone stays fit.
Hopefully, they will.