Chance made you dream twice and gave a stellar duel to the Champions

If the knockout phase of the Champions League that was played last year was disrupted by the first year of the pandemic -like the world, of course-, which modified its calendars, emptied its stadiums and reduced the series to single matches that concentrated the elite of European football in 12 days, the current edition seemed determined not to close this 2021 without its own rarity. The particularity, which nurtured the daily inventiveness of meme creators, occurred in the traditional UEFA draw, which was unusually twice after a series of mistakes during the ceremony in Switzerland, especially warned by Atlético de Madrid. In the midst of a scandal and various anger, the second random call determined the final crosses for the eighths final that will take place in February, with the series between the Spanish Real Madrid and the PSG of the Argentine Lionel Messi as the stellar duel that will have to be scheduled.

While 2020 was marked by its empty football months, the year to come was characterized by tight competition schedules, as FIFA and its partner federations try to catch up with their agendas, mainly with an eye toward the qualifications to the World Cup in Qatar. Maybe that’s why, In 2021 he did not want to say goodbye without giving yet another football breath, even if it was just an illusion. And that was precisely what happened after the UEFA comedy passage on Monday, which forced fans, players, managers, clubs and federations to imagine a horizon of the new football year, and then to change it for another.

The only ones who came out unscathed from the error were Chelsea and Lille, who again and again were related by chance within the same crossing, curiosity of the probabilities that surely the English team -current champion of the Champions- liked more than the French -possibly the least feared seed of the eight-.

The rest of the teams, in their entirety, saw their mental plans modified as soon as the first draw was declared void, which according to UEFA networks was due to “a technical problem with software from a third-party service provider that instructs the referees on which teams are eligible to play against each other. “The images of the official broadcast, meanwhile, hinted moments of confusion when handling balls and bowls. When it was the turn of chance for Atlético de Madrid, for example, it was indicated that Manchester United was already paired (when it was not) and its ball was not included in the bowl of the possible rivals of Aleti.

The mattress club, precisely, was the one that put the cry in the football sky and, incidentally, made it explicit on their social networks, to unleash the euphoria of his followers, who had already assumed the worst scenario: after the suffered classification to the eighth, the first draw assigned them neither more nor less than the reckless Bayern Munich. “We are in talks with UEFA to ask for explanations and a solution after the mistakes made in the draw,” they wrote from the official account of the Madrid institution.

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Aleti’s Twitter still reproduces a paradox: a quick and confused visit will believe that it has two rivals, announced with the time difference that the UEFA rectification meant and the realization of the new draw. The one that is valid for the team led by Argentine Diego Simeone, however, is the last one: Manchester United. Chance in its second version, on the other hand, left RB Salzburg lamenting, which in its first historic classification to the second round will have to deal with the overwhelming power of the German team.

Another one who got angry -but from the realization of the second draw- was the Real Madrid, To who Benfica had been lucky in the first verdict of chance and before the mistakes began. The final ceremony awarded PSG of Messi, Mbappé and (his ex) Sergio Ramos, and the annoyance was not long in coming. Emilio Butragueño, merengue director of Institutional Relations, described what happened as “surprising, regrettable and very difficult to understand”, but Madrid club sources cited by the newspaper ABC they were even tougher and summed up the matter by saying “‘VergÜEFA'”.

The first draw had ensured the duel between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as their highlight of the February instance, but the rectification left a new star crossing: the Parisian team of superstars will face neither more nor less than the Merengue team, Victim in remembered times of Rosario’s crack but also the most champion club in the history of the competition, with its unattainable 13 Orejonas. The rest of the crosses will be Sporting Lisbon-Manchester City, Salzburg-Bayern, Inter-Liverpool, Chelsea-Lille, Villarreal-Juventus, Benfica-Ajax and Atlético de Madrid-Manchester United.

After all, the knockout stages of the Champions League are already underway. And, by the time February arrives, the world will have been divided between those who will no longer remember what happened in the draw and those who, as soon as their series ends, still wonder what would have happened if he had come across that other impossible rival.

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