Cristiano Ronaldo will not face-off against archrival Lionel Messi, at least not in the Round of 16 stage of the 2021-22 Champions League after a hurriedly conducted redraw pitted their teams against different opponents.
In an unprecedented move, European football’s governing body UEFA on Monday cancelled the draw for the Champions League Round of 16, made earlier in the day, over mistakes committed by the officials, the redraw pitting Messi’s Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) against Spanish giants Real Madrid and Ronaldo’s Manchester United facing Atletico Madrid.
As per the earlier draw, United were to play PSG, setting up a mouth-watering clash between the two superstars that have faced each other numerous times during their stint in the Spanish League. But the officials who were conducting the draw committed some mistakes and failed to include names of some clubs while picking opponents for Atletico Madrid and Villarreal.
The draw was redone and now PSG is pitted against Real Madrid while Manchester United was drawn to play Atletico.
In other matches, Bayern Munich, who were earlier drawn to play Atletico, will now meet Salzburg while Benfica will take on Ajax; Manchester City are drawn to meet Sporting Lisbon; defending champions Chelsea will take Lille as per the original draw; Juventus meet Villarreal while Inter Milan will meet Liverpool in a clash of two former champions.
Atletico and Manchester United have met only twice in competitive European football before, in the 1991/92 European Cup Winners’ Cup, when the home side won 3-0 at the Vicente Calderon. The second leg was a 1-1 draw, with Mark Hughes scoring for United.
The redrawn fixtures make the Round of 16 even more exciting thanks to clashes between big names. All eyes will be on the encounter between Atletico and Manchester United; PSG versus Real Madrid and Inter Milan versus Liverpool.
The teams will be meeting in two-leg encounters. The first legs will be played on 15/16/22/23 February, with the second legs played on 8/9/15/16 March.
The away goals rule no longer applies, so if aggregate scores are level after 180 minutes, extra time will be played, and if scores remain level after 210 minutes, penalties will be resorted to.
Redrawn fixtures for Champions League Round of 16:
Salzburg v Bayern Munich
Sporting v Man City
Benfica v Ajax
Chelsea v Lille
Atlético v Manchester United
Villarreal v Juventus
Inter v Liverpool
PSG v Real Madrid