Rabiot-Lopez, Titi, and Minot23 feb 2017
Two years and nearly 90 Ligue 1 matches separate them. One is right-footed and the other left-footed, but the talent and passion their respective club bring them together. Maxime Lopez, the 19 year-old from Marseille with 19 matches in his first season, and Adrien Rabiot, the 21 year-old from Paris with 107 first division matches, are both already leading elements in two of France's most prestigious teams.
With promising futures ahead of them if they remain calm and firm, both the young midfielders began football careers in renowned training clubs in their region, Burel FC and US Créteil-Lusitanos.
Spotted very quickly by scouters, Minot and Titi joined their current club at the end of their post-training, at 13 and 15 years old respectively. Every step of the way, they moved up the ranks and are now in the sights of Europe's greatest teams. Early recognition resulted from regular high-flying performance uncommon for players with such little experience.
Lopez and Rabiot demonstrate surprising maturity and serenity despite the weight of the jersey they carry on their back.
As players with character, a number of points bring them closer, but the comparison has its limits. On the field, each of them develops his own style to defend his colors.
Small in size (167cm), but quick and generous, the Olympique Marseilles midfielder impresses with his vision, his constant good positioning, his self-sacrifice, and his great passing ability. With already 6 assists and a goal in only 23 professional matches in all competitions, Maxime Lopez boasts statistics desired by a good number of more seasoned players.
Experience, Adrien Rabiot has a lot of it, especially on the international scene with 22 European Cup matches. Very comfortable with recovery as with breaking, gifted with a clean and accurate kick, this large Parisian (188cm) is also nimble-footed before the goal (19 goals in 157 matches), but less selfless than his counterpart (9 crosses in nearly 7 times more matches than Maxime).
Both Lopez and Rabiot are impatiently looking forward to the encounter this Sunday. Recalling the Vainqueur and Verratti dual, their confrontation will be scrutinized. But for them, it's not just a simple Ligue 1 match. It's the story of two kids in love with their cities and passionate about the game, brought up in the rivalry between two entities, which they are now the symbols of.
The story of Titi and Minot have hardly begun, but it's already keeping us in suspense. They will meet for the first time at the professional level. Next stop, their first meet up