TUESDAY’S BIG STORIES

A big balls-up

Let’s face it, we all enjoyed that. Okay, maybe not Real Madrid fans…
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What a farce. We’re so used to these processes playing out smoothly, that when it all goes to pot the majority of us simply revelled in the mishap. There was the old element of surprise, too. A day after Formula One bosses cooked up some of their own halfway rules, there was a sense UEFA may just slip off into the night as well and claim nothing was the matter.
But alas, Atletico Madrid surprisingly complained after originally drawing Bayern Munich, and the outcome – a re-draw.
Bayern-Atleti wasn’t the only tasty tie that will never be, with Cristiano Ronaldo versus Lionel Messi, known to some as Manchester United versus Paris Saint-Germain, a bucketful of narrative we won’t get to witness for at least another round.
But hey, at least Chelsea only had to make a Lille change to their graphic.
Somehow, there was a glitch in the matrix, but don't go blaming UEFA, oh no. They were all too eager to claim there was “a technical problem with the software of an external service provider that instructs the officials”, and not take any responsibility themselves.
There was a slight apology from Claudio Ranieri’s twin, but Giorgio Marchetti then harped on about software when in fact UEFA should have just fronted up and admitted a few suits in a room should be capable of picking the right balls and making each pot correct.
Embarrassing for UEFA. Playing the blame game only made it worse, and making an even greater enemy out of Real Madrid? Well, best put that phone on silent and redirect all emails to junk.

Things could get complicated

The Warm-Up covered this yesterday, and is doing so again today, because this story isn’t going away anytime soon.
It's beginning to look a lot like the Christmas schedule could be severely hit.
A record high in the Premier League, 42 positive Covid cases, has seen "emergency measures" activated by the league with more testing for both players and staff on the way.
The jump from 12 to 42 cases in a week is naturally a huge concern, with Tottenham, Aston Villa, Norwich and Manchester United among the clubs affected.
Indeed, the Premier League waited for the merry hour of almost midnight last night to postpone United’s game at Brentford this evening. It isn’t the first, won’t be the last, and is a reminder of the precarious position football finds itself in.
The festive fixture list is brimming as ever, but what becomes of it we’ll just have to wait and see. It’s hard to see a smooth few weeks playing out, while any possible backlog could have bigger consequences come the New Year.

Aguero to retire?

Say it ain't so. What a heartbreaking end this would be for one of the most popular footballers in the modern game.
Reports are rife that Sergio Aguero will announce his retirement tomorrow, with heart problems set to cut his time at Barcelona short and pull the curtain on his playing career as well.

'Not the information I have' - Xavi on Aguero's rumoured retirement

His Barcelona stay looks set to read just the five games and one goal in the Clasico defeat to Real Madrid – a far cry from what the 33-year-old will have hoped for when switching Manchester City for Barca in the summer.
Let’s hope it isn’t the case, but if you’re diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat, it’s wholly understandable.

IN OTHER NEWS

That Europa draw, eh

It’s the play-offs next in the Europa League. You know, the round after the groups and before the last 16. Confused? The Warm-Up has just about got to grips with the format, and is now salivating over a stacked draw which doesn’t even feature the Europa League group winners yet.
Barcelona taking on Napoli, Rangers challenging themselves against Borussia Dortmund, Porto facing Lazio. Everywhere you look there’s an intriguing tie, while perennial winners Sevilla are back to claim their crown too.
All this, and you have clubs like Lyon, Bayer Leverkusen, Monaco and West Ham awaiting the victors in the last 16 – this could be another Europa to remember.
  • Sevilla v Dinamo Zagreb
  • Atalanta v Olympiacos
  • RB Leipzig v Real Sociedad
  • Barcelona v Napoli
  • Zenit St Petersburg v Real Betis
  • Borussia Dortmund v Rangers
  • Sheriff Tiraspol v Braga
  • Porto v Lazio

RETRO CORNER

Feels rude not to. It’s not an #OnThisDay, it’s not his birthday, but it’s worth throwing back to the other draw Arshavin was part of now more than 12 years ago. Blimey.

COMING UP

A midweek round of Premier League fixtures, and though Brentford vs Man Utd has been postponed, as it stands Norwich vs Aston Villa is still going ahead, likewise Manchester City vs Leeds.
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