World Cup

Fixtures

Champions League last-16 ties redrawn after ‘technical problem’

UEFA deputy general secretary said the errors in the original draw were caused by a ‘malfunction of the software’.

UEFA Deputy General Secretary Giorgio Marchetti holds the name of Villarreal CF during the Champions League round of 16 draw
The football body UEFA declared the initial draw as 'void' after 'technical problem' [Richard Juilliart/UEFA/AFP]

Manchester United will take on Atletico Madrid in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League, while Paris St-Germain will face Real Madrid, after UEFA on Monday declared the original draw void due to a technical error in the process.

Earlier, United were mistakenly drawn with Villarreal, even though both teams had already faced each other in the group stage while the Premier League side’s ball was not added to the bowl as a potential opponent for Atletico Madrid.

United were eventually drawn with PSG while Atletico drew Bayern Munich before the draw was scrapped after the Spanish side complained and UEFA admitted the error.

“Following a technical problem with the software of an external service provider that instructs the officials as to which teams are eligible to play each other, a material error occurred in the draw for the UEFA Champions League round of 16,” UEFA said on its website.

“As a result of this, the draw has been declared void and will be entirely redone at 15:00 CET (14:00 GMT).”

PSG’s initial draw with United was a highly anticipated battle between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi – the competition’s two top goal scorers.

The pair have won 12 of the last 13 Ballon d’Or awards for player of the year – with Messi leading 7-5 after victory in 2021.

Instead, Messi will now face a familiar opponent in Real Madrid, against whom he has scored 26 times in all competitions when he was at Barcelona.

Real Madrid had also attempted to sign French forward Kylian Mbappe from PSG in the close season but ultimately failed after the Ligue 1 side rejected their bids.

Record 13-time European champions Real are unlikely to be happy with the new draw as they had initially been paired with Benfica in the very first tie before the problems occurred.

A clash with the PSG of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe is, on paper, a far tougher tie.

United’s Ronaldo, meanwhile, will relish a tie against Atletico having scored 25 goals against them for Real and Juventus.

Revising the draw

Meanwhile, Liverpool will take on Inter Milan with another trip to the San Siro after Juergen Klopp’s side beat AC Milan twice in the group stage.

“I had to wait 54 years to play at the San Siro for the first time. .. and now it’ll be twice in three months, so that’s good news,” Klopp told the Liverpool website.

“Of course, it is a tough draw, definitely. They are the league leaders in Italy; a good team in a good moment.”

Klopp added UEFA did the right thing in redoing the draw.

“I saw it live and I thought, ‘You cannot let it stand like this, there’s no chance.’ Definitely, they had to do it again.”

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola also agreed a redraw was the right course of action.

“I think it’s fair,” he said. “It was a mistake and these kind of things sometimes happen … [a redraw] makes sense so there are no suspicions.”

Last year’s runners-up City face Sporting Lisbon while Juventus, who topped their group above Chelsea, face Villarreal.

Holders Chelsea will face French champions Lille, just as they were drawn in the original draw, while six-time champions Bayern Munich will now face RB Salzburg – the first Austrian side to qualify for the knockout stages.

UEFA also experienced technical issues while conducting the third-tier Conference League draw later.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies