The 2021/22 UEFA Champions League round of 16 draws was made on Monday 13th, December 2021. The draw was made for the second time after “software errors” forced UEFA to declare the first draw null and void.
What happened in the first draw?
In the first draw, Manchester United were erroneously paired against Villarreal — a team they were ineligible to play because they were from the same group during the group stages of the tournament.
The second error was when Athletico were paired with Bayern Munich, and Man United were not in the pot. Athletico complained about that because United were supposed to be among the probable opponents that Athletico were eligible to play. Amazingly, when the draw was redone, Athletico got United! Which means their complaints were justified.
To rectify the errors and to ensure transparency and fairness, UEFA had no option but to nullify the draw and go for a second one.
Here is the first draw that was nullified:
Benfica vs. Real Madrid
Villarreal vs. Manchester City
Athletico Madrid vs. Bayern
RB Salzburg vs. Liverpool
Inter vs. Ajax
Sporting Lisbon vs. Juventus
Lille vs. Chelsea
PSG vs. Manchester United
THE 2021/22 UCL ROUND OF 16 OFFICIAL DRAWS
RB Salzburg vs. Bayern
Sporting vs. Manchester City
Benfica vs. Ajax
Chelsea vs. Lille
Athletico vs. Manchester United
Villarreal vs. Juventus
Inter vs. Liverpool
PSG vs. Real Madrid.
TOP SOCCER BLOG looks at the losers and the winners from the draw.
The European football governing body’s huge reputation suffered a dent from what transpired at the draw. Moreso, many could not fathom UEFA’s excuse of a “software error” when the draw could be handled manually.
It raised questions about UEFA’s integrity and led to conspiracy theories about “rigging” and “match-fixing.”
WINNERS: BAYERN MUNICH
Bayern were unplayable in the group stages, winning all their matches and dumping Barcelona out of the competition on the last day.
The Bavarians were initially handed Athletico Madrid in the first draw that was cancelled and got RB Salzburg when the draw was remade.
Julian Nagelsman’s side will be grateful of avoiding Athletico and Diego Simeone — known for their aggressive style and use of the “dark arts” in football.
LOSERS: REAL MADRID
Real Madrid got a favourable draw at the first attempt when they were paired with Benfica but felt aggrieved after the second draw when they got PSG.
PSG, who boasts of the likes Lionel Messi, Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, Sergio Ramos in their star-studded squad, will be a much tougher opposition to Madrid than Benfica.
The Italian giants could not have hoped for a better draw after the initial UCL round of 16 draws were done. The bianconeri are not in the best form, and have been inconsistent in their domestic League. Although they finished top of the group, they could have still faced difficult opposition. Nonetheless, they were paired against Villarreal, who they will fancy their chances against.
After finishing in second place in their group, RB Salzburg knew the were not going to have any easy opposition in the last-16 stages. However, they ended up with the worst they would have hoped for. Bayern Munich are obliterating any team that stands in their way in the UCL, and the Austrian side will have the odds stacked against them in the tie.
Benfica are having a great season in the Champions league in 2021/22. The incredibly qualified for the knock-out stages ahead of Barcelona!
Their fairytale season seemed to be heading to an abrupt end when they were initially drawn against Real Madrid in the first draw but got Ajax when the draw was remade.
The Portuguese side will surely fancy their chances of winning against the Dutch giants.
LOSERS: INTER MILAN
Inter are rebuilding after losing Antonio Conte and Romelu Lukaku in the summer. The Nerazzurri have enjoyed a fair start to the season and came second in their tricky group, which contains giant-killers Sheriff Tiraspol, Shakhtar Donetsk, and Real Madrid.
Inter will have been happy when they got Ajax in the first draw, but their joy was short-lived when they were paired against Mohammad Salah’s Liverpool after the redraw.
WINNERS: ATHLETICO MADRID
Athletico weren’t at their best during the group stages as they had to secure their qualification to the knock-out on the final matchday.
One of the reasons why the draw was remade was because Athletico complained that Manchester United were not included in the pot where Athleti’s opponents were picked from, whereas the Red Devils should be there.
Athletico got Bayern Munich in the first draw, but when the draw was remade, Diego Simeone’s side got Manchester United…. yes! Man U — the team Athletico complained about!!!
Divine grace had it that Athletico’s wish be granted, and their complaint (and UEFA’s decision to call for a second draw) was justified!!
The Blues seemed to have gotten themselves into trouble when they fumbled their chance of topping their group on the last day, but luckily, they got the weakest opponents available in Lille, and when the draw was remade for the second time… Chelsea got Lille again!!!.
What do you think about the draw, and what’s your opinion regarding UEFA’s mishandling of the first draw? Use the comment box to let us know your opinion. Thanks!