Andrey Arshavin draws Manchester United during the Champions League last-16 draw in Nyon
Andrey Arshavin draws Manchester United during the Champions League last-16 draw in Nyon Image Credit: Reuters

Typical. You wait for ages for one sporting fiasco and two come along at once.

While the world was still reeling from Max Verstappen’s controversial last-lap Formula One triumph over Lewis Hamilton in Abu Dhabi on Sunday night, Uefa did their best to trump the debacle.

On Monday, the traditional Champions League draw took place in a glitzy affair at Uefa’s headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland — but it did not quite go according to plan.

The last-16 draw threw up a dramatic reunion for Cristiano Ronald and Lionel Messi as Manchester United were drawn against Paris St-Germain, but fans hoping to see the superstar duo on the same field once again were left disappointed as a technical error meant the entire draw was void and would have to be redone.

Uefa declared the initial set of ties void due to an error in the draw process. United were erroneously drawn with Villarreal, even though both teams had already faced each other in the group stage, and then the Premier League side’s ball was not added to the bowl as potential opponents for Atletico Madrid.

United were eventually drawn with PSG, while Atletico drew Bayern Munich before the draw was scrapped amid farcical scenes.

“Following a technical problem with the software ... 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. “As a result of this, the draw has been declared void and will be entirely redone.”

There were no mix-ups the second time around as United — with no touch of irony — were drawn against Atletico, and PSG came out of the hat against

Ronaldo’s old club Real Madrid in the tie of the round.

But the damage was done and Uefa now face a major clean-up process to restore the reputation of the world’s biggest club football competition, with European soccer’s governing body having seen its own image tarnished due to a series of corruption scandals that led to the resignation of president Michel Platini in 2016.

The Champions League last-16 ties will be played in February and March.


Paris St-Germain v Real Madrid
Inter Milan v Liverpool
Villarreal v Juventus
Atletico Madrid v Manchester United
Chelsea v Lille
Benfica v Ajax
Sporting Lisbon v Manchester City
Red Bull Salzburg v Bayern Munich