Florentino Perez and Real Madrid have been left livid by proceedings at the Champions League draw on Monday morning, with the club incensed at seeing the initial pairing with Benfica being disregarded and turned into a two-legged tie with Paris Saint-Germain.
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 (@UEFA) December 13, 2021
The Parisian side was initially drawn against Manchester United, however, the scandal overtook proceedings in Nyon as it appeared that United’s ball wasn’t correctly included in the draw for Atletico Madrid’s fixture, despite being eligible.
This mistake called the whole legitimacy of the draw into question and a decision was made for the procedure to restart later in the afternoon once the Europa League and Europa Conference League draws were completed.
Perez immediately got to work, with reports suggesting that he had lobbied for the draw to restart only involving the teams who had been impacted by the error, which would have seen the tie against Benfica stand.
— Rodrygo Goes (@RodrygoGoes) December 13, 2021
Alas, UEFA opted not to do that and Los Merengues were paired with one of the favourites for the trophy in the form of Mauricio Pochettino’s charges.
“It is surprising, regrettable and difficult to understand,” explained Emilio Butragueno, the club’s director of institutional relations.
The anger within the walls of the Madrid club hasn’t yet subsided, although it’s not clear whether or not an official complaint about the entire process will be made.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) December 13, 2021
Real Madrid are understandably frustrated, they now have to play against Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and possibly even Neymar, whilst Sergio Ramos will make his return to the Spanish capital.
For both clubs, this draw is far from ideal, with relations between the two parties having soured considerably within the last 12 months.
Ronaldo vs. Atlético: 35 games, 25 goals 🔥 pic.twitter.com/YGuujTSPRB
— cricketsoccer (@cricketsoccer) December 13, 2021
After treating the oil-rich club with kid-gloves for years, Perez alienated the French giants not only with his involvement in the European Super League plans but also with the club’s summer pursuit of Mbappe, which is likely to lead to a free transfer next summer.
Another player that will be returning to Spain in the last 16 is Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo, who will face his former rivals in Atletico Madrid.
The Portuguese player gained hero-like status during his time at Real Madrid, as he helped them win four Champions League trophies, with two of those coming after beating Atletico in the 2014 and 2016 finals.
The Champions League last-16 draw in full
Red Bull Salzburg vs Bayern Munich
Sporting Lisbon vs Manchester City
Benfica vs Ajax
Chelsea vs Lille
Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United
Villarreal vs Juventus
Inter vs Liverpool
Paris Saint-Germain vs Real Madrid