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Confusion at UEFA Champions League draws

By Guardian Nigeria
14 December 2021   |   3:05 am
In the original draw, Manchester United’s ball was pulled out of the pot against Villarreal, but they were ineligible to face each other as they had been in the same group

In this handout picture released by the UEFA, UEFA Deputy General Secretary Giorgio Marchetti holds the name of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) during the Champions League round of 16 draw at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, on December 13, 2021. – The first legs are scheduled for 15/16/22/23 February, with the second legs on 8/9/15/16 March. (Photo by Richard JUILLIART / UEFA / AFP)

PSG draw Real Madrid

There was confusion during the UEFA Champions League draws for the last 16 teams yesterday.

In the original draw, Manchester United’s ball was pulled out of the pot against Villarreal, but they were ineligible to face each other as they had been in the same group – an eventuality Uefa said the technology should have prevented.

Last season’s Europa League winners, Villarreal, were instead paired with Premier League champions, Manchester City.

Further confusion appeared to occur when United was excluded from the pot of possible opponents for Atletico Madrid, and Liverpool included instead.

However, United could have played the Spanish side and Liverpool could not have progressed into the knockout stage from the same group.

Uefa said in a statement: “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.

“As a result of this, the draw has been declared void and will be entirely redone.”

One major change this season…

The first legs will be spread out across 15, 16, 22 and 23 February, with the second legs on 8, 9, 15 and 16 March.

Chelsea is the only English side to play their first leg at home, with the other three all away first after winning their groups.

A major change from this season sees the away goals rule removed, so ties level after 180 minutes will go to extra time.

If the teams still cannot be separated after the additional 30 minutes, then it goes to a penalty shootout.

This seasons final takes place in St Petersburg, Russia, on 28 May.

Premier League sides will fancy their chances, according to analysis, Phil McNulty.

The high farce of the twice-run Champions League last-16 draw was yet another example of sport’s ability to make something seemingly simple so complicated – but at least the Premier League’s quartet of clubs finally know their fate.

For Chelsea, it was the same second time around after a “software” glitch was resolved as they were paired once more with French champions Lille, a draw that will leave them cautiously optimistic of progress.

Manchester United, having originally been lined up for the next chapter in the rivalry between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi after drawing Paris St-Germain, still got a tough one in Atletico Madrid in the revised version. Tough, but maybe not quite as tough as it once was with Atletico struggling for form. No one, however, should write off coach Diego Simeone’s ability to make life hard for anyone in this tournament.

Liverpool fared slightly worse at the second time of asking. Italian champions and Serie A leaders Inter Milan will present a tougher challenge than original opponents Red Bull Salzburg but Jurgen Klopp’s side will still be favourites.

Manchester City will also believe they can find their way into the last eight as they will now meet Sporting Lisbon of Portugal after the redraw. They would also be favourites from their first pairing against Villarreal and each of the Premier League sides will firmly believe they can reach the last eight.

The redraw meant spectators were robbed of a meeting between PSG and Manchester United, which would have pitted two of the greatest players of all-time against each other in Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Culled from BBCSports