A high-pressure clash with plenty at stakes, more often than not tempers tend to flare over in these contests. So, the referee will have a huge role to play in games like these in order to keep the players in line and ensure that the match goes smoothly.
With the officials for the weekend fixtures set to be finalised on Thursday evening, Mundo Deportivo is now reporting that Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez is the favourite to officiate this weekend’s El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid.
The 38-year-old is a vastly experienced official, who has overseen 123 La Liga matches in his career. He was honoured with the Best Referee award in Spain for the 2019/20 season, indicating his pedigree.
To date, Sanchez Martinez has taken charge of 24 games involving Barcelona, out of which the Catalans won 19 and lost three (2 draws). He has refereed Real Madrid 23 times, with Los Blancos winning 13 of those fixtures, losing and drawing five apiece.
Sanchez Martinez has officiated four El Clasico games so far in his career, two of which have come in La Liga while the remaining two were a Copa del Rey semi-final and the finals of the Spanish Supercup. Barcelona have won three of these games while Real Madrid have come out on top just once.
As far as this season is concerned, the 38-year-old is yet to officiate any games involving Barca while he did arbitrate one of Madrid’s games – a 5-2 win against Celta Vigo. He has, however, overseen high-profile clashes like Sevilla-Valencia and Villarreal-Real Betis this term.
Sanchez Martinez also took charge of his first UEFA Champions League match in September earlier this season. His international status and the fact that he has hardly officiated any games involving the two La Liga behemoths this season make him the favourite to take charge of Sunday’s El Clasico, the report states.
Other alternatives who could possibly officiate the game are Mateu Lahoz, Hernandez Hernandez and Cuadra Fernandez.