Champions League draw do-over: Explaining the mistakes that caused a Round of 16 redo

In an unprecedented turn of events, UEFA was forced to redo the Champions League Round of 16 draw after errors surfaced in the original procedure. That forced the European governing body to void the results and order a redraw three hours later.

That first draw came up with eight matchups that included a Paris Saint-Germain vs. Manchester United matchup that would have seen Lionel Messi facing Cristiano Ronaldo. But that dream matchup will be scratched due to errors that UEFA blamed on third-party software. Teams from the same group and country are not permitted to face one another according to tournament rules, but the software apparently failed to adhere to them.

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

The first error was seen on live TV when Manchester United came up in the draw for Villarreal’s opponent. Except Man United shouldn’t have been in the pot to begin with since the Red Devils played in the same group with Villarreal. The rules state that teams from the same group or country cannot be drawn together in the Round of 16.

Then it was the media that picked up on the other error. When it came time to selecting the Atletico Madrid opponent for the Round of 16, apparently Manchester United was not one of the balls selected. Media reports say that Liverpool was instead put in the pot when it shouldn’t have: Liverpool played Atletico Madrid in the group stage.

It led Atletico Madrid to ask UEFA for an explanation “and a solution after the errors committed in the draw for the Champions League Round of 16.

One report claimed that Villarreal were also petitioning to have the draw redone.

The teams contacting UEFA about the draw reportedly also included Real Madrid, which wanted its draw result against Benfica to stand. Los Merengues clearly liked their original draw, now having to settle for a much tougher matchup against PSG.

“I apologize that we have had to gather again,” said UEFA Deputy General Secretary Giorgio Marchettin before the second draw took place. “There were issues caused by a malfunction that is run through an outside provider.

“After the draw the external independent auditor informed UEFA that they could not guarantee that the problem with the IT system did not exist from the start. And as a result, the full draw needs to be redone. From now on, every suggestion made by the software will be checked in real time by UEFA officials to ensure accuracy. This may mean that the draw takes slightly longer, but I’m sure you will agree that it’s the right thing to do.”

These were the results of the re-draw:

Match Home team – 1st leg   Home team – 2nd leg
1 RB Salzburg vs Bayern Munich
2 Sporting CP vs Manchester City
3 Benfica vs Ajax
4 Chelsea vs LOSC Lille
5 Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United
6 Villarreal vs Juventus
7 Inter Milan vs Liverpool
8 PSG vs Real Madrid

Compare those to the original draw, which was scratched:

Match Home team – 1st leg   Home team – 2nd leg
1 Benfica vs Real Madrid
2 Villarreal CF vs Manchester City
3 Atletico Madrid vs Bayern Munich
4 RB Salzburg vs Liverpool
5 Inter Milan vs Ajax
6 Sporting CP vs Juventus
7 Chelsea vs LOSC Lille
8 Paris Saint-Germain vs Manchester United

Between the pressure from the clubs and the pressure from the media, the re-draw was the right thing to do, although there will be some teams that won’t be happy by the new opponents they’ve been dealt.

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