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Champions League’s void round of 16 redrawn after Manchester United pulled out twice in botched initial procedure


Manchester United were drawn in error during the round of 16 draw (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)

Manchester United were drawn in error during the round of 16 draw (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

Manchester United were drawn in error during the round of 16 draw (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)

UEFA were forced to redraw their Champions League round of 16 after Manchester United were pulled out in error during a botched procedure first time round.

In the redraw, United have been pitted against Spanish champions Atletico Madrid while Liverpool will take on Inter, Manchester City will face Sporting and Chelsea have been drawn against French champions Lille, the same opposition that they received first time round.

The confusion surrounded the initial draw when United were erroneously pulled out to face Villarreal.

As the pair had met in the group stage, that was a clash that was not permitted to take place at the stage of the competition. The error came in that United’s ball should not have been placed as an option, by UEFA's Head of Club Competitions Michael Heselschwerdt, once Villarreal had been drawn out first.

That was compounded when, during the next tie to be drawn, United were omitted from the options to face Atletico de Madrid, although there was nothing in the regulations that should have precluded that potential tie from taking place.

"For Atletico de Madrid, the possibilities are all except Liverpool, who was in the same group and Manchester United. Manchester United have been already drawn,” explained UEFA chief Giorgio Marchetti.

Of course, United’s original ‘draw’ had been in error and should have been immediately scrapped, leaving them as a potential option to face Atletico de Madrid.

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In the initial draw, Manchester United’s confusion turned to frustration when they went on to be drawn against PSG while Liverpool were set to take on Salzburg, Manchester City drawn to play Villarreal and Chelsea facing Lille.

Announcing that the whole thing would be redrawn later on the same day, UEFA seemed to attempt to pass the buck.

"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,” read a statement.

There was even a brief scare after the redraw with some fans wrongly thinking that UEFA had made another error. With three ties left to be drawn, Villarreal were said to have only one potential option: Juventus.

Some pointed out that, as they weren’t in the same group, Liverpool were eligible to face Villarreal. That would have been true but for the make-up of the sides left in the draw. Internazionale, still in the hat, could only face Liverpool having been in the same group as Real Madrid and unable to face fellow Italians Juventus. That, in turn, meant that Villarreal could not face the Reds, nor compatriots Real Madrid, leaving Juve rightly declared as their only option.

In the comparatively dull draw for the Europa League knockout play-off round – a round of 32 played between teams placed second in the Europa League groups and teams finishing third in the Champions League groups – Rangers have been pitted against Borussia Dortmund while Barcelona were drawn to face Napoli.

The Light Blues and Dortmund last met in the UEFA Cup third round in 1999, Dortmund progressing after a penalty shoot-out victory following a 2-2 aggregate draw. Recently appointed Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst was one of three players to miss a penalty for the club.

Barcelona find themselves trying to keep alive their hopes of European football after finishing third in their Champions League group behind Bayern Munich and Benfica.

It is the first time since 2003-04, when Barcelona were in the UEFA Cup, that the Catalan club will not be in the knockout stages of the Champions League, a competition they have won five times.
Napoli, winners of the competition in 1989, progressed from a Europa League group which included Leicester, who they beat 3-2 in the final group game in Naples.

In the Europa Conference League knockout play-off round, Celtic were drawn to face Norwegian side Bodo/Glimt, who smashed Jose Mourinho’s Roma 6-1 in the group stage.

Leicester City will play Danish side Randers.

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