UEFA was forced to declare the Champions League draw void after a series of mistakes were made during the process on Monday morning.
Manchester United had been handed a mouth-watering last-16 tie against Paris St Germain, but only after being erroneously paired with Villarreal in the first instance and then mistakenly left off the list of possible opponents to face Atletico Madrid.
After clubs sought clarification from the European governing body on what had happened, UEFA announced the ties would be redrawn at 2pm on Monday.
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 Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) December 13, 2021
“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,” a statement said.
“As a result of this, the draw has been declared void and will be entirely redone at 1500 CET.”
Confusion began when United were paired with Villarreal – a side they had already faced in Group F.
UEFA deputy general secretary Giorgio Marchetti apologised for the “technical issue our draw is experiencing” before asking former Arsenal forward Andrey Arshavin to try again, and this time it was neighbours Manchester City who were paired with the Yellow Submarine.
But the problems did not stop there.
When Atletico Madrid were the next side to be drawn, Marchetti said: “For Atletico Madrid, the possibility are all [teams] except for Liverpool, who was in the same group, and Manchester United as they were already drawn.”
But as United’s drawing was a mistake, they should still have been potential opponents for Atletico. UEFA’s head of club competitions Michael Heselschwerdt began collecting balls to put in the pot, but compounded the error by appearing to take a ball from Liverpool’s pot rather than United’s.
Atletico were ultimately paired with Bayern Munich, but given the series of errors, UEFA had no choice but to declare the draw void.
This is unbelievable!!! Will @UEFA redo the whole draw or just pick it up from when the mistake was made? Either way, if a mistake was made it surely has to be done again?— Michael Owen (@themichaelowen) December 13, 2021
The initial draw had also seen Liverpool paired with Salzburg, with defending champions Chelsea due to face Lille.
Inter Milan were drawn against Ajax, Benfica with Real Madrid, and Sporting Lisbon were set to meet Juventus.
Speaking in his Monday press conference, City manager Pep Guardiola said the decision to declare the draw void was correct.
“It’s going to happen again and I think it’s fair,” he said. “It was a mistake. This kind of thing sometimes happens, especially in football with players and managers and sometimes with UEFA too…
“I think it’s fair. It’s better to repeat it than have suspicion. All of the opponents are tough. People say now we face this opponent, one is better than another one but all of them at this stage are difficult.”