The blues were due to play Villareal for a place in the quarter final. However, as UEFA seemed unable to pick balls from pots effectively, with European football’s governing body blaming the problem on 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.’
United were drawn against Villareal, however, as they had faced each other in the group stages, the couldn’t play against each other in the last 16. Therefore, the La Liga side were paired with City while United were given PSG.
UEFA admitted the error and voided the draw, which now sees City travelling to Portugal, while the media-loving clash of the Messi-Ronaldo egos has been cancelled. While City are unconcerned by the change, the new draw has been met with relief across the road, who consider Atletico to be an ‘easier’ tie.
Sometimes, it might be easier just to have one team per country, throw them all in a pot and draw against each other, regardless of who they have played previously. They could even rename the competition to something more appropriate, maybe the European Cup for example?
City last played Sporting in the the 2011/12 Europa League campaign. The blues had finished 3rd in their inaugral Champions League campaign and dropped into the Europa League. After beating Porto convincigly in the previous round, City returned to Portugal and lost the first leg 1-0.
The blues were confident of overturning the deficit, but found themselves 2-0 down by half-time. Two goals from Sergio Aguero and a penalty by Mario Balotelli inbetween put the blues ahead, but went out on the away goals rule. Sporting can’t rely on that this time around!
The other ties now see Red Bull Salzburg face Bayern Munich, Benfica play Ajax and Villareal are up against Juventus. PSG face Real Madrid and Liverpool are up against Inter Milan. The only teams completely unaffected by the draw are Chelsea and Lille, who were again drawn against each other.