Manchester United ball ‘left out’ of Champions League last-16 draw to play Atletico Madrid

Manchester United were eventually drawn against Paris Saint-Germain

Confusion reigned following Monday’s draw for the Champions League last-16 after Manchester United’s ball appeared to be left out from the draw to play Atletico Madrid.

United were eventually pitted against Paris Saint-Germain in the knockout stages, yet it remains to be seen whether the draw will stand following an apparent error by Uefa officials.

United were initially drawn to play against Villarreal, yet having already faced the Liga club in the group stages, this was in error.

Giorgio Marchetti, Uefa’s deputy general secretary hosting the draw, spotted the mistake and ordered the tie to be re-drawn, with Villarreal ultimately facing Manchester City.

But a technical error appeared to subsequently block United from being selected as one of the teams eligible to play the next side drawn out of the hat, Atletico.

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Michael Heselschwerdt, Uefa’s head of club competitions, did not appear to select a United ball from the designated pot and instead included Liverpool, who were ineligible to play Atletico having already faced them in the group.

Atletico were drawn against Bayern Munich, while United and Liverpool were paired with PSG and Red Bull Salzburg respectively.

It is understood that United have not challenged the draw but are awaiting clarification from Uefa.

If the draw stands, United’s trip to Paris would see them come up against Mauricio Pochettino, who is among the Old Trafford hierarchy’s preferred candidates to become Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s permanent successor.

The draw would also pair Cristiano Ronaldo against Lionel Messi and see United play PSG for the first time since the 2018-19 knockout stages, when a 3-1 win in Paris was widely considered Solskjaer’s finest night as manager.

Champions League last-16 draw

Benfica vs Real Madrid

Villarreal vs Manchester City

Atletico Madrid vs Bayern Munich

Red Bull Salzburg vs Liverpool

Inter Milan vs Ajax

Sporting Lisbon vs Juventus

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Chelsea vs Lille

PSG vs Manchester United

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