UEFA Champions League knock out stage redraw which unusually took place this Monday had cancelled out the early encounter of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the round of 16.
The European governing body engaged a rare error in an official Champions League knock out stage draw on Monday. UEFA then released their statement regarding such mistake leading to an embarrassment for European football.
“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 UEFA Champions League Round of 16.”
The mistake began when Manchester United was set to play against Villareal, an opponent they should not have met since they both were seeded in the same group. The next error was detected when The Red Devils, which was already paired up with PSG, was excluded in the list of opposition for Atletico Madrid. It was quite a shame since such would potentially offer an intriguing clash between Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi, who both happened to move to each opposing sides this summer. Here was the initial draw result:
- Manchester United vs PSG
- Chelsea vs Lille
- Real Madrid vs Benfica
- Liverpool vs RB Salzburg
- Bayern Munich vs Atletico Madrid
- Sporting Lisbon vs Juventus
- Inter Milan vs Ajax
- Villareal vs Manchester City
After a redraw, only one match results the same. It is the one involving the reigning Champions, Chelsea. Here is the confirmed round of 16 matches:
- Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United
- Chelsea vs Lille
- PSG vs Real Madrid
- Inter Milan vs Liverpool
- RB Salzburg vs Bayern Munich
- Sporting Lisbon vs Manchester City
- Benfica vs Ajax
- Villareal vs Juventus
Overall, the games remain as tough as they were from the initial draw, except for Liverpool and Real Madrid. The Reds will have to be careful while taking on this reviving team under Simone Inzaghi. Although Jurgen Klopp’s men are still considered the favourite, Hakan Calhanoglu and Co can not be easily ruled out. Liverpool’s last meeting against Inter was already in 2007/08 when Steven Gerrard and Co dismantled Roberto Mancini’s Nerrazurri 3-0 in aggregate.
Meanwhile, Los Blancos have a better head-to-head meeting while facing off PSG. They have won three times and only suffered one loss in the last six encounters. However, Real Madrid were winless in the last two matches against Le Parisien in 2019. They lost once and could only muster a draw at that time. This season, despite the impressive form so far, Carlo Ancelotti’s men need to remain alert since Mauricio Pocchettino has Messi to support Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in the squad.
In the meantime, Bayern Munich and Ajax might be the sides which could not have been more grateful with the second draw results. They will have less demanding and intriguing fixtures with Salzburg and Benfica as their opponent respectively. Die Roeten and Der Amsterdammers might have had to strive more to ease past Atletico and Inter Milan compared to their recent pairs.
The round of 16 will be staged on February 15th-16th and March 8th-9th for the first leg and February 22nd-23rd plus March 15th-16th for the second leg. The away goal rule has been abolished, meaning that no matter how many they can score, as long as both sides managed to win in the same margin, their fate will still be decided through an extra time until one side has better goal aggregate before the shootout begins.