Liverpool will face Inter Milan in the Round of 16 in the 2021-22 edition of the Champions League but it took some time to get here after the initial drawing for the knockout rounds had to be declared null and void and a re-draw staged.
The first time around, the presenters had presented and the balls were drawn from their pots and in the end Liverpool plucked RB Salzburg out for their Round of 16 Champions League tie. But there had been errors.
Earlier in the first draw, Villarreal had drawn Manchester United. Both, though, had shared the same group. The draw should not have been an option. The presenters thought quickly and drew again, pulling Man City as Villarreal’s opponents.
The key initial mistake had been made, though—blamed on computer error, with invalid opponents not properly identified—resulting in irregularities in later draws, and behind the scenes multiple clubs took issue.
There were claims United, having been wrongly placed in the previous draw, were then not added to the draw for Atletico Madrid’s opponents when they should have been while Liverpool—group opponents of Atleti—were added but not drawn.
As a result of it all, UEFA made the unprecedented decision to declare the initial draw null and void. A new draw was made, with Liverpool having to wait until the final two pairings, leaving them either Inter Milan or Paris Saint-Germain as opponents.
They got Inter, and will return to Italy, to Milan, and to the San Siro for the first round of the tie—after heading there to face AC Milan in the group stage—before returning to Anfield for the second leg.
For posterity, the original pairings were Real Madrid vs. Benfica, Man City vs. Villarreal, Bayern vs. Atletico Madrid, Liverpool vs. Salzburg, Ajax vs. Inter, Juventus vs. Sporting, Lille vs. Chelsea, and Man United vs. Paris Saint-Germain.
Only one draw remained the same, with limited opponent options resulting in Chelsea drawing Lille again when their only options could have been the French side or Real Madrid.
The new draw, in full:
- Bayern Munich vs. RB Salzburg
- Manchester City vs. Sporting Lisbon
- Ajax vs. Benfica
- Lille vs. Chelsea
- Manchester United vs. Atletico Madrid
- Juventus vs. Villarreal
- Liverpool vs. Inter Milan
- Real Madrid vs. Paris Saint-Germain