Der Spiegel sent shockwaves through the footballing world with their report on the 'European Super League.'
The concept had previously been spoken of as some fantastical expansion of the Champions League, but there was nothing to suggest that clubs were genuinely scheming. Yet the shock November report claimed that no less than 16 of Europe's biggest clubs had been plotting the competition, with Real Madrid leading the way.
Los Blancos were allegedly joined by AC Milan, Arsenal, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Manchester United who comprised the main body of conspirators. Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Paris St-Germain would also be involved as 'co-founders' with a final group of Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Marseille and Roma holding guest status.
Some of the details behind the league threatened to change European football forever. Clubs would be able to leave their national football associations behind and certain clubs would be exempt from relegation in the tournament. If the report is to be believed, undisclosed teams have already drawn up a 'binding term sheet' for the 16 clubs to sign on.
Unsurprisingly, a number of clubs sought to address the claims made by Der Spiegel and reassure UEFA that they weren't scheming behind their backs. The response of the institutions, initially spearheaded by Bayern Munich, seemed to rubbish claims of the Super League with comprehensive denial.
European Super League rumours
UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin addressed the issue in late November, informing BBC Sport: "The Super League will not happen. We have some ideas. All I can say is that any Super League is out of the question. Participation stays, and everybody will have an opportunity to compete in every European competition.”
Nevertheless, it hasn't stopped some football fans from believing the conspiracy and the report has generally sparked debating amongst the sporting community. It's safe to say that most people are opposed to the idea, amid the daunting prospect of the Premier League, Champions League and other competitions completely collapsing.
Above everything else, though, it really makes you wonder how a European Super League would actually play out with so many top teams competing on a regular basis. That considered, GiveMeSport has tried to simulate how the lucrative league would really play out, who would take the trophy and who would sink to the bottom.
How the table would look
We've taken the 16 teams listed in the Football Leaks report and established the same rules as the Premier League, with each club playing every opponent home and away. The competition would hypothetically be starting right now and it would have to be assumed that no transfers were made during the course of the season.
With those rules in place, here is our prediction for the full table of the European Super League in its first season complete with top goalscorer and best player.
Let's not beat around the bush, Marseille look guaranteed to finish bottom. Despite boasting plenty of talent and certified European pedigree, Les Phoceens would struggle against the juggernauts of the continent and their time away from the Champions League certainly wouldn't help.
The fate of the 'guest' clubs aren't fully explained in the Der Spiegel report but assuming the bottom three clubs are relegated, Marseille won't be lasting long in the competition. Florian Thauvin would be the key to any success yet it's difficult to envisage him matching his Ligue 1 goal tally on this platform.
15. AS Roma
Seventh place in Serie A doesn't exactly bode well before entry into the European Super League and the Giallorossi will be stewing with Marseille in the relegation zone. Roma showed their quality during last season's Champions League, but have struggled after the sales of Alisson Becker and Radja Nainggolan.
The Italians are far more suited to knockout competitions and would fade when the fixture list features clashes with Manchester City and Juventus in the space of a few days. Their leaky defence would open them up to some emphatic defeats and potential results against Marseille or fellow Italian sides would be their best bet.
14. AC Milan
Rewind 10 years and AC Milan would have been a top contender in this competition, but the legendary club is only just beginning to find its feet again on the European stage. Gennaro Gattuso's men would be the last team to be relegated yet their win over Roma in August ensures they steer clear of the bottom two.
Milan's goal difference would take a serious hammering over the season, even if they could frustrate a number of clubs in the bottom half of the table. Heroics from Gianluigi Donnarumma between the sticks and regular goals from Gonzalo Higuain would be crucial to any success.
13. Manchester United
That's right, Manchester United. The Red Devils are in something of a rut under Jose Mourinho and their torrid Premier League form doesn't bode well for regular games with the best in the world. When you need a last minute winner to put Young Boys to the sword, the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid will be licking their lips.
Given the amount of quality in the Super League, though, a 13th place finish isn't a disgrace and Mourinho's ability to grind out results would prove their saviour. Expect shock draws and losses to teams like Marseille, followed by inspired victories over Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain when you least expect them.
12. Inter Milan
The highest placing Milan side gets the better of United over the 30-game season, but both teams finished the season worrying about a relegation battle. In truth, Inter remain a shadow of the side that won the Champions League in 2010 and just do enough to survive here with their superior Serie A standing this season.
Moments of promise against Tottenham and Barcelona this season show their potential against big sides and Mauro Icardi will produce far more goals than his team's position would suggest. That being said, Inter would remain the Crystal Palace or Watford of the Super League.
Arsenal have strung together an impress 20-match unbeaten run this season and big teams who thrashed them under Arsene Wenger, would be in for a surprise. The Gunners would be found out when the chips are down but Unai Emery would ensure they were much harder to beat than before.
The key for Arsenal would undoubtedly be their attack with Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang proving one of the most formidable front-lines in the competition. Nevertheless, it's hard to see Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos holding up against everyone from Lionel Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo. A solid mid-table finish.
10. Bayern Munich
The German giants just aren't the force they used to be and their fourth place standing in the Bundesliga makes a worrying forecast for the Super League. With an ageing attack that's inconsistent against top teams and a relatively inexperienced manager, Bayern won't be launching a title charge anytime soon.
Bayern have shown flickers of brilliance at times, though, and certainly have the ammunition to fend off most of the Italian sides and Marseille. Clashes with Arsenal would be closer than ever, but it'll only take an in-form Robert Lewandowski for them to lag behind the Bavarians again.
You know it's a brutal league when Chelsea - so impressive at times this season - are twiddling their thumbs in the bottom half of the table. Nevertheless, recent poor results against Tottenham and Wolves suggest they could slide down the standings over a long season, potentially slipping on a few banana skins along the way.
That being said, the incredible style of football from Maurizio Sarri will flourish on a European stage and there's definitely potential for results against the big boys. There's certainly room for progression in the future but ninth place is solid for the work in progress at Stamford Bridge.
8. Real Madrid
The alarming fact about placing Real Madrid in eighth is they could actually be lower, with Los Blancos enduring a torrid start to the season and are already on their second manager. The poor form of key players like Sergio Ramos and Luka Modric will certainly hold them back and there can be no denying they miss Ronaldo.
It's difficult to look past Real's incredible European pedigree, though, and plenty of fans would back them to turn things around in the Super League format. We're giving them the benefit of the doubt here and assuming their form against the top team survives, avoiding anymore El Clasico thrashings along the way.
7. Borussia Dortmund
Just imagine the pure brilliance of Dortmund playing in the Super League, there would be entertaining games every week. The German side have to be up there after making a brilliant start in the Bundesliga and thriving in a Champions League group including Atletico Madrid and AS Monaco.
When it comes to Dortmund, it's all about their attack with Paco Alcacer and Marco Reus already boasting double figures for the season. They could score some lucrative wins over teams like AC Milan and AS Roma, while still boasting the firepower to produce seismic results against the sides around them.
6. Paris Saint-Germain
There's no two ways about it, the format of the Super League would seriously harm PSG's chances. The French champions have a deserved reputation for struggling in the big games and in this new competition, they'd be playing against Europe's top clubs on a weekly basis.
The sheer quality of players like Kylian Mbappe and Neymar are guarantees of success, but in a league so jam-packed with talent, sixth place could be their highest finish. Until PSG prove themselves in the Champions League, it can only be assumed that they'd struggle in the big away games with Manchester City and co.
5. Atletico Madrid
Another example of the Super League structure having a major effect on the standings, Atletico would come good over a 30-game season and rise into contention. The defensive duo of Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez would build up an impressive tally of clean sheets, with Jan Oblak standing as one of the world's best goalkeepers behind them.
They're not short of options in attack either and the duo of Antoine Griezmann and Diego Costa trumps plenty of their rivals, assuming they're on form. Their recent success in the Europa League bodes well for European titles but Diego Simeone no longer possesses a team worthy of conquering the main contenders.
Making the 'Champions League places' in the Super League is a monumental achievement in itself and a fourth place finish would be credit to Liverpool's recent resurgence. With one of the most exciting attacks in the entire sport and a freshly reinforced back four, Liverpool would be a real contender in the tournament.
Virgil van Dijk is arguably the best centre-back in world football and even alongside less experienced players, he's proven himself against the best forwards in the game. Mohamed Salah may need to rediscover his finest form for further success, but Liverpool have plenty of options to overcome the 12 teams below them.
Deciding between the top three teams was no easy task and Juventus can count themselves unlucky to come third when so many are tipping them for Champions League glory. That being said, their defence and midfield are no longer the force they used to be and nobody would argue either department is the best in the world.
It's the attack that will inspire them to third place, however. Juventus have one of the deadliest assets in the whole competition with Ronaldo, a player who doesn't discriminate when it comes to the opposition he scores against and the magnitude of the event. The Old Lady just don't have that winning edge in Europe to go all the way.
The Blaugrana have been bulldozing teams in the Champions League recently and would have their sights set on Super League glory just the same. There's no better place to start than Lionel Messi and just a few reenactments of his Tottenham performance would see the goals, assists and victories roll in.
Alongside him, Luis Suarez has proven that he can still deliver with his hat-trick against Real Madrid and Ousmane Dembele is one of the most exciting talents out there. However, their tendency to rely on Messi during big moments and their lack of depth in key areas could see them drop points when it really matters over a long league season.
1. Manchester City
Who else? When it comes to the league format, you could put any set of opponents against Guardiola's team and City would still come out the other side in first place. Although their team isn't necessarily the best on paper, Guardiola has forged a brilliant team and nobody is playing football as good as them this season.
Their sheer depth would make them almost unstoppable over 30 games with Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling the key belligerents in attack. They would undoubtedly register defeats amid tricky games with Barcelona and Juventus, but nine months gives them ample time to outlast and out-style everyone before them.
Top goalscorer: Cristiano Ronaldo
Best player: Kevin De Bruyne
Now that is quite some league table.
Although the European Super League has more negatives than positives, it's certainly a fun exercise to imagine so many top teams locking horns on a regular basis. Every single week would be rammed with blockbuster fixtures and the final table would be a footballing artefact.
Sadly, albeit for the better, fans won't be seeing the lucrative competition anytime soon but right now, Manchester City would be the ones laughing. Premier League or Super League, there's no stopping them.
Who do you think would win the European Super League? Have your say in the comments section below.News Now - Sport News