An extremely versatile Turkish midfielder who now works as a blazer for his national federation, Hamit Altintop seemed as good a random former footballer as any for Uefa to choose to help conduct the Big Cup round of 16 tombola. What’s more, he’s one half of a set of twins, a state of affairs that meant that if this season’s draw was beset with the same technical glitches that meant last year’s had to be done twice and he started buffering, there was a pretty much like-for-like replacement in his brother, Halil, available to take over.
Luckily, there were no gremlins in the Uefa machine this time around and with the assistance of suave, debonair Uefa mouthpiece Pedro Pinto, Hamit did a sterling job under the beady eye of the organisation’s Deputy General, Giorgio Marchetti, in front of an audience of club representatives featuring former Germany goalkeeper and old Fiver favourite Oliver Khan. Now the CEO of Bayern Munich, Khan managed to remain commendably impassive as his club were drawn against Paris Saint-Germain, even if his plucky German underdogs will go into the tie as outsiders to beat the Qatari-owned juggernaut who find new and ever more amusing ways to exit Big Cup with each passing year.
Speaking of state-owned juggernauts, Manchester City celebrated the release of their bumper balance sheet (which was, depending on the allegiances of several thousand of unqualified Social Media Disgrace accountants, predictably plausible or merited compliments to the chef), by being paired with
Red BulRasen-Ballsport Leipzig. Oh the romance! Chelsea will also travel to Germany, but may well be on their third manager of the tournament by the time they visit Dortmund in February.
Elsewhere, Spurs will face Milan in a re-run of the Gennaro Gattuso-Joe Jordan throat-grab derby, while Liverpool’s disquiet at being paired up with Real Madrid for the third time in as many years was such that, according to some reports, their owners Fenway Sports Group immediately went looking for buyers. And yes, you’re right. That screeching noise you could soon hear will be the sound of the Tory-esque U-turns being pulled by thousands of Anfield regulars who have spent the past year looking disapprovingly and tut-tutting sanctimoniously in the direction of Newcastle. Oh, football. Why do you keep making fools of us all?
That Big Cup R16 draw in full: Manchester City v RB Leipzig, Benfica v Club Brugge, Real Madrid v Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur v Milan, Napoli v Eintracht Frankfurt, Chelsea v Borussia Dortmund, FC Porto v Inter, Bayern Munich v PSG.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“They can’t tackle discrimination. So it shows there is no real intention to change. We spoke to [the social media giants] but you get wishy-washy feedback: ‘Yeah, we’re trying all we can.’ No, you’re not” – Rio Ferdinand talks to Donald McRae about racism, sexuality and mental health in football after making a trilogy of films on those subjects.
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“The Aston Villa-Manchester United match did not feature a happy ending for the visitors, and a fluke goal from a wayward shot that took a massive deflection offered little consolation. But for a moment, they experienced Shaw shank redemption” – Peter Oh.
“I hate Gareth Bale and Yordan Álvarez. In the span of four hours, they tore out the hearts of us Philadelphia pro sport supporters: Bale to force the MLS Cup shootout and Álvarez to give Houston what became the MLB World Series championship. What looked bright Saturday afternoon turned into depression on Sunday” – JJ Zucal.
“Clearly Big Website’s duty lawyers were doing a Fiver (ie sleeping on the job) when you managed to slip in the reference to squeaky clean Fifa boss kissing the Emir’s [snip – freshly awake Fiver lawyers]” – Dev Kapadia.
“Regarding Mike Turney’s letter (Friday’s letters) of seeing Robbie Savage masquerading as Glenn Hoddle on a door in a Wembley pub. Anyone, in fact everyone, can see that’s Ted Hastings” – Bob Cole (and 1,056 other Line of Duty fans).
Send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org. And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winners of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Peter Oh.