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Champions League draw: What happened & why was UEFA forced to redo it?

16:14 GMT 13/12/2021
Champions League draw
How did UEFA find itself in a position where the draw had to be done again? GOAL has the details

Champions League knockout stage draws can be dreary enough affairs, with familiar suits running through the same old preamble of technical procedures before a set of match-ups between the usual suspects are confirmed.

However, the 2021-22 Champions League last-16 draw was anything but dreary and there was a spot of drama with UEFA left cleaning egg off its face as it was forced into a second draw.

So what exactly happened and why was there a redraw? GOAL brings you everything you need to know.

What happened in the Champions League draw?

A series of errors occurred during the draw for the Champions League last 16, involving the placement of the marked balls, which resulted in UEFA having to redo it.

Things went smoothly for the first tie, with Benfica drawn against Real Madrid, but confusion arose around the second tie when Manchester United were erroneously drawn against Villarreal - a team they could not play since they emerged from the same group. Another team - Manchester City - were subsequently drawn against Villarreal instead.

However, another error then occurred during the draw for the third tie concerning Atletico Madrid, with Manchester United's ball not included in the pot, thus meaning their ball could not physically be pulled out.

The draw continued to its conclusion, but the errors had been spotted and discussion raged on social media.

Atletico then revealed that the club had been in contact with UEFA "to ask for explanations and a solution" to the problem of the mistakes which evidently transpired during the draw.

While the draw for the Europa League was ongoing, UEFA subsequently released a statement to confirm that a "technical problem" had occurred and that the draw would be "entirely redone" a number of hours later.

Why did UEFA redo the Champions League draw?

UEFA was forced to redo the Champions League last 16 draw because the errors which occurred during the procedure rendered the results inherently flawed and unfair.

The European governing body issued a statement to explain what had happened and to declare the initial draw "void".

It read: "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 at 1500 CET."

How was the first draw different to the second?

One of the biggest disappointments of the redraw was the fact that Manchester United would no longer face off against Paris Saint-Germain, meaning football fans have been denied a reunion of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo - for now.

Instead of PSG, Man United were paired with Atletico Madrid - the team they weren't initially in the pot for! Messi and PSG, meanwhile, are now off to the Santiago Bernabeu to play Real Madrid.

Interestingly, while most ties changed, Chelsea's didn't - they were drawn against Lille on both occasions. A believer in fate might say it was written in the stars.

You can see how both draws compare below.

Initial, void draw

  • Benfica vs Real Madrid
  • Villarreal vs Man City
  • Atletico Madrid vs Bayern Munich
  • Red Bull Salzburg vs Liverpool
  • Inter vs Ajax
  • Sporting vs Juventus
  • Lille vs Chelsea
  • PSG vs Man Utd

Second, confirmed draw

  • Red Bull Salzburg vs Bayern Munich
  • Sporting vs Manchester City
  • Benfica vs Ajax
  • Chelsea vs Lille
  • Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United
  • Villarreal vs Juventus
  • Inter vs Liverpool
  • PSG vs Real Madrid

What has been said about the redraw?

The Champions League draw error initially prompted a mixture of disbelief, anger and humour, with social media lighting up as commentary intensified. The word 'rigged' trended on Twitter, with some people complaining of an imaginary conspiracy, while others made light of the mistake.

Former Tottenham and Barcelona striker Gary Lineker observed that it was "not a great couple of days for sporting authorities", making reference to a Formula 1 controversy that happened the night before, while ex Liverpool and Manchester United forward Michael Owen said it was an "unbelievable" error.

The anger reduced as it became clear there would be a redraw, but Real Madrid, who saw their opponent changed from Benfica to PSG, were not happy with UEFA's decision.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp agreed with UEFA's decision to redo the draw, telling Liverpool's official website: "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."

Former Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves opined on BT Sport that getting Atletico Madrid instead of PSG was "slightly easier, but still really difficult" for Ralf Rangnick's team