One of La Liga’s most notorious referees is being tipped to take charge of Barcelona’s Clasico clash with Real Madrid on Saturday at the Camp Nou.
Mateu Lahoz, who will referee Manchester United versus Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League on Tuesday, is “expected” to officiate the crunch game between the two fierce rivals, according to Sport‘s Ramon Fuentes.
The match official is one of the most well-known referees in European football but is no stranger to controversy. He’s come in for criticism from Barcelona players previously and is unpopular among supporters.
Barca defender Gerard Pique spoke out against Lahoz in February 2019 for failing to show Sergio Ramos a second yellow card during a 1-1 draw with Real Madrid at the Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey, according to Marca.
“He [Mateu Lahoz] had a strange criterion, we had to play and adapt. In general, he had a good match. It was a card for Sergio [Ramos, who was already on a yellow late on], but what can we do?”
It’s not the first time Pique and Lahoz have clashed either. The center-back had to be restrained on the touchline during a 1-1 draw against Las Palmas in 2018. Lahoz failed to send off goalkeeper Leandro Chichizola for a clear handball outside the penalty area and also awarded a controversial penalty against Barcelona.
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Dembele vs Lahoz
Pique is not the only Barcelona player to tangle with Lahoz. Ousmane Dembele was sent off by the referee in a draw with Sevilla in 2019 for calling the official “very bad” after he dismissed Ronald Araujo.
The decision to show Dembele the red card was met with bemusement by then Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde in his post-match press conference.
“The red cards? It’s the referee’s decision. Everyone has their opinion. I’ve seen a pretty clean game.
“I don’t know what Dembele may have said to the referee but I don’t think it’s a long sentence because it’s hard to hear him speak Spanish.”
Captain Lionel Messi also tried to rescue Dembele from the red card. He told the referee the Frenchman doesn’t speak Spanish well but his protests fell on deaf ears.
Both Teams Need Wins
Barcelona and Real Madrid will both head into Saturday’s clash in need of a win after losing last time out in La Liga. The Catalan giants were beaten 1-0 at Getafe, while Los Blancos slipped up at newly-promoted Cadiz.
The two teams will both play their opening Champions League group game ahead of Saturday’s match which gives them a chance to build some momentum. Barca play host to Hungarian champions Ferencvaros, while Real Madrid are up against Shakhtar Donetsk.
Real Madrid had the better of the two Clasico fixtures last season. They held Barca to a goalless draw at the Camp Nou and won the return 2-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Yet neither team has started the 2020-21 season in convincing form, making Saturday’s latest instalment of the fierce rivalry between the two clubs as compelling as ever.