Manchester United were tied with Villarreal for the first time in the opening draw of Champions League last 16. But those football teams met in the group stage, so a new name was withdrawn, giving Villarreal a match against Manchester City.
At that time the ball named United should have been thrown back into the bowl. It did not seem so, United did not have a chance to draw against Atletico Madrid. The rest were withdrawn, with Manchester United eventually tying with PSG, and the draw ended in a draw. But as a result of the skid, football’s European governing body UEFA has decided that the best way is to withdraw all 16 teams.
UEFA was happy to try to shift the blame for folly, saying: “Following a technical problem with an external service provider’s software, informing the authorities which teams are eligible to play each other, in the draw for the 16th round of the UEFA Champions League.”
After the draw, Chelsea drew with Lille as before. However, the other seven matches were different: Salzburg-Bayern, Sporting Lisbon-Manchester City, Benfica-Ajax, Atlético Madrid-Manchester United, Villarreal-Juventus, Inter Milan-Liverpool and PSG-Real Madrid.
The team most unhappy with the new draw is Real Madrid, which started off with a very winnable match against Benfica but ended with PSG’s star-studded side playing. However, Real comfortably leads the Spanish league and seems to have all the chances.
Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola, who started with one game against Villarreal and ended with one against Sporting, said: “It was a mistake. These things can happen to managers, players and UEFA as well. Correct. It would be a mistake not to repeat it. There will be doubts.”