Real Madrid ended up paying the highest price for UEFA’s botched Champions League draw.
Real were paired with Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16 on Tuesday (AEDT) after UEFA had to redo the entire draw following a mistake the first time around. The Spanish club had initially been drawn against Portuguese club Benfica but instead face PSG’s superstar attack of Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.
Manchester United were initially paired with Villarreal, but the English club should not have been placed in that bowl as the two advanced from the same group. United were then paired with PSG, but the English club was mistakenly not included among possible opponents for Atletico Madrid when it should have been. That oversight meant the entire draw had to be redone. Atletico and Man United were then paired in the second draw.
“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,” UEFA said in a statement.
Only one of the eight pairings came out the same in both processes: defending champions Chelsea playing Lille. Bayern Munich will face Salzburg, who make their debut at this stage, instead of original opponents Atletico. Liverpool had been paired with Salzburg but were later drawn to face Inter Milan.
The other last-16 ties are: Sporting Lisbon v Manchester City, Benfica v Ajax, and Villarreal v Juventus.
Lionel Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain will face Real Madrid in the Champions League.Credit:Getty
The first-leg games will be played over two midweeks from February 15-23. The return games will take place from March 8-16.
The second draw ceremony opened with an apology from UEFA tournament director Giorgio Marchetti. The redraw meant the competition lost a stellar clash between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. But the standout game still involves PSG, who were by far the best team among the group runners-up that made up the pot of unseeded teams.
Real eliminated PSG at the same stage in 2018, which was the first season for Mbappe and Neymar in Paris.
The PSG-Madrid games will also see Mbappe face the team he is widely expected to join when his contract expires at the end of the season.
Real had urged UEFA to retain its original pairing with Benfica.
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