UEFA had a case of the Mondays with the Champions League draw and the errors made that compromised it. The European governing body was forced to void the initial results and start from scratch three hours later, causing a flurry of discussion regarding how the earlier, now-nullified results compared to the new, validated ones.
Plenty of teams will be pleased with the new pairings, while others are sure to be understandably furious about how it all played out.
Here’s a quick rundown of how teams made out, and storylines we gained and lost.
Champions League Re-Draw Winners
1. Bayern Munich
The six-time champions originally drew Atletico Madrid, which was surely a contributing factor to the Spanish side’s fury regarding how the initial draw played out.
After the redraw, Bayern will now match up with RB Salzburg, a considerably more favorable task. Not only is the new opponent of far inferior pedigree, but the trip is considerably shorter, with Munich and Salzburg less than two hours apart by car as opposed to a full plane flight to Madrid. This is a big win for the Bavarians.
The Blues are the beneficiary of the only repeat matchup of the re-draw, again landing French side Lille. It was meant to be, and Chelsea won’t be upset about that at all. Lille topped its group, but that comes with a slight asterisk given it was the competition’s easiest group with RB Salzburg, Sevilla, and Wolfsburg. The defending champs represent a real threat to repeat as winners, and they didn’t have to cough up a soft initial matchup.
Like Chelsea, Juve had a friendly initial draw, paired with Sporting CP. When redrawn, the Italian side will now match up against Villarreal, which currently sits 13th in the La Liga table and only qualified for the knockout stage by stunning Atalanta on the final day.
There are no easy matchups in the knockout stage, but Juve will consider themselves lucky not to come up with a more difficult scenario.
Champions League Re-Draw Losers
1. Real Madrid
Los Blancos are the clear losers in this whole mess. Club president Florentino Perez will be furious that his team went from an initial draw of Portuguese side Benfica to now matching up with PSG.
DECOURCY: Real Madrid royally hosed by re-draw
Instead of a simple trip to Portugal against the Premeira Liga’s third-placed side, Los Merengues are forced into a reunion with consistent pest Lionel Messi and and old friend Sergio Ramos. Ouch.
Bayern Munich’s gain is Liverpool’s loss. Jurgen Klopp’s side was set to take on RB Salzburg after the initial draw, seeing the Reds match up against the first side from Austria ever to make the knockout stage.
With the teams sent back into the pots for a redraw, Liverpool came out against Inter Milan. With a much tougher ask for Liverpool now confirmed, the Reds will consider themselves unlucky to have the first slate of matchups wiped away.
It wasn’t a good look for the European governing body. An incredibly simple coding ask turned into an international debacle, and while UEFA blamed it on a third-party vendor, there was no escaping the egg on the face. It’s hard to imagine an organization with the resources of UEFA getting such a simple task so horribly wrong. But here we are.
Stories we lost
Lionel Messi vs. Cristiano Ronaldo
This was as juicy a first-round storyline as anyone could ask for, and it was cruelly taken from us thanks to the re-draw. These two faced off on Dec. 8, 2020 with Ronaldo scoring a brace in a 3-0 group-stage win for Juventus over Barcelona. Fans will feel cheated here, but there’s still a chance we can see the matchup later in the competition.
Ajax against a Champions League contender
Ajax was the biggest surprise of the group stage, absolutely blitzing Group C with a perfect 18 points from six matches, scoring 20 goals and conceding just five. The shockingly dangerous Dutch side was initially drawn against Inter Milan, and it would have been exciting to watch them match up against a true Champions League contender. But in the re-draw they will now take on Portuguese side Benfica.
If Ajax passes that test, fans can hope to see the Dutch side land a more challenging contender in the quarterfinals to test their Champions League ambitions. This could be a club that causes serious havoc, just like it did in 2018-19 by reaching the semifinals.
Stories we gained
Sergio Ramos & Lionel Messi vs. Real Madrid
PSG drawn against Real Madrid is clearly the premiere matchup of the re-draw. Former Blancos captain Ramos has only made one Ligue 1 appearance this season due to a calf injury, but unless it becomes a much larger issue, he should be healthy to face his old club by the time February rolls around.
Now teamed up with Lionel Messi, it will be fascinating if Ramos deploys his usual villainous tactics against the club he made 671 appearances for — especially when matched up against longtime former teammate Karim Benzema — or if he backs down from the spotlight. Messi has been a constant thorn in Los Blancos’ side, scoring 26 goals and assisting 14 others in 45 matches across all competitions.
Man City’s Portuguese stars vs. Sporting CP
A number of Manchester City players have significant history against the Portuguese champs, as Ruben Dias, Bernardo Silva, and Ederson all played for rivals Benfica earlier in their careers, ensuring they will receive a chilly welcome in Lisbon.
Dias has been wildly successful against Sporting, winning five and losing just one of his nine matches against Sporting while with Benfica, even scoring a goal in a 4-2 league win in the 2018-19 campaign. Ederson kept one clean sheet in three appearances against Sporting, while Bernardo Silva was a Manchester United player before he could ever take the field against the Portuguese rivals.
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