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UEFA Champions League

‘What a balls-up’ – Champions League draw fiasco stuns sporting world as Ronaldo vs Messi clash is wiped out

16:43 GMT+3 13/12/2021
Champions League Cristiano Ronaldo Lionel Messi
After initially seeing Manchester United paired with PSG in the last 16, UEFA was forced to redo the draw following a technical error

The draw for the last 16 of the Champions League proved to be an eventful and rather chaotic affair, with Manchester United unwittingly finding themselves at the centre of a European storm after initially being paired with Paris Saint-Germain.

That contest, which would have seen Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi rekindle their long-running rivalry, was eventually wiped out after UEFA admitted to a “technical problem” which forced them to carry out the entire procedure again.

Unsurprisingly, interested observers from around the world were quick to ask questions of how European football’s governing body managed to find itself fire-fighting such a predicament.

What happened in the Champions League last-16 draw?

Just one tie had been pulled out of the hat when the last-16 draw descended into farce.

Real Madrid had been paired with Benfica, before Villarreal became the third ball to be extracted from a pot of group-stage runners-up.

Ex-Arsenal star Andrey Arshavin then proceeded to unfurl the name of Manchester United, but the Red Devils had already faced supposed La Liga opposition in this season’s competition.

That error was quickly spotted, leading to Manchester City being lined up against Villarreal, but United were not added back in for the next tie to be drawn against Atletico Madrid – as Bayern Munich were handed a heavyweight encounter with Spanish foes.

The draw was eventually completed, with Messi and PSG left until last alongside Ronaldo and United, but concerns were already being raised behind the scenes, with Atletico among those to lodge an official complaint.

UEFA then announced that the initial fixture list was null and void, with a second draw added to the schedule – much to the annoyance of La Liga giants Real Madrid who were happy with their lot and had managed to steer clear of any scandal.

What has been said?

While condemnation of UEFA’s errors quietened quickly once an error of its ways had been acknowledged, the entire episode left many dazed and confused.

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