The Champions League draw for the round of 16 was a wild one on Monday, having to be redone due to a technical error. The last 16 teams were paired into eight ties set to be played in February and March, with numerous tasty battles now on the schedule. The slate is highlighted by PSG vs. Real Madrid, while Manchester United face Atletico Madrid. The first draw that had to be redone actually saw Lionel Messi and PSG drawn against Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United, but alas, it did not stand.
Champions League round of 16 matchups
- 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 Milan vs. Liverpool
- PSG vs. Real Madrid
But who are the winners and losers from the draw? Let's get into it.
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Winner: Manchester United
That first draw was a tough one for United, getting handed mighty PSG. While United did bounce the Parisians from the competition in 2019, this is a stronger PSG on paper after landing Lionel Messi, and the Red Devils would have been the massive underdog. So, with the do-over, United avoid PSG and instead get Atletico Madrid. They are far from an easy opponent, but it is a much better draw considering Atleti can't stay healthy in defense, while Ronaldo has a history of terrorizing Los Colchoneros.
Winner: Fans of chaos
If you like orderliness, this wasn't the draw for you. Things began to seem off when Manchester United were paired with Villarreal, something that wasn't supposed to happen due to them being in the same group. So they tried again, and it was Manchester United against PSG, which was fine. But wait, because it didn't end there. Then Liverpool were paired against a team from their own group in Atletico, and that actually stood without anybody saying anything. Shortly after, UEFA announced that the draw would be redone.
Loser: Andrey Arshavin's start to the week
I hope former Russian soccer star Andrey Arshavin didn't have any plans in Switzerland for this draw. The former Arsenal and Zenit Saint Petersburg man was tasked with opening balls at the draw for the initial event, then having to return for the redo hours later in what had to be an uncomfortable spot. Not to mention that those little plastic balls seem a bit tricky to spin open. I'd like to think Arshavin had an open day and not awesome dinner planes for some lovely fondue in Geneva.
Winner: USMNT supporters
There are plenty of Americans left in the UCL, such as Brenden Aaronson at RB Salzburg, Zack Steffen at Manchester City and Weston McKennie at Juventus. But fans of the United States men's national team will be particularly intrigued for the two legs of Chelsea against Lille, potentially getting to see Christian Pulisic against Tim Weah. Pulisic is heart and soul of the national team in attack, and Weah impressed over the last few months to solidify his spot in the team moving forward.
Now I must realistically prepare myself for two substitute appearances for Pulisic totaling 26 minutes.
Loser: Impatient fans
As of the publication of this article, we've got over two months to wait for the return of the competition. I know, I know, it's tough. It's the greatest club competition in the world and rarely is its quality ever rivaled. But we've got you covered. There is a whole ton of soccer you can watch on Paramount+, including this Sunday's huge Milan vs. Napoli contest in Serie A.
Winner/loser: Kylian Mbappe
One of the more interesting storylines of the round of 16 will be PSG superstar Kylian Mbappe potentially playing his last Champions League campaign for PSG ... potentially against the club he is most rumored to join in Real Madrid. The World Cup winner's contract expires in June, meaning he can sign a pre-contract with clubs starting in January. Could you imagine if it is reported that he has agreed to join Real Madrid before PSG play Los Blancos? There's a chance this could be absolutely chaotic and drama filled, and I'm all here it.