UEFA Champions League Referee Appointments – April 30-May 1, 2019

Image courtesy of UEFA

April 30, 2019 – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Tottenham Hotspur (ENG) vs AFC Ajax (NED) – Semifinal, 1st Leg
REF: Antonio Mateu Lahoz (ESP)
AR1: Pau Cebrián Devis (ESP)
AR2: Roberto Díaz Pérez del Palomar (ESP)
4TH: Alberto Undiano Mallenco (ESP)
VAR: Alejandro José Hernández Hernández (ESP)
AVAR: Juan Martínez Munuera (ESP)

As was rumoured last week, the first semifinal goes to Antonio Mateu Lahoz, who takes charge of what is probably the less glamorous of the two ties. He certainly has his detractors (Gerard Piqué, for example) but has had a solid European campaign. This will be Mateu’s third knockout-stage match this season, with both of his previous two, oddly enough, having been in England as well. He was in charge of Tottenham’s 3-0 beatdown of Borussia Dortmund in the last-16 and then Liverpool’s victory over Porto at the quarterfinal stage.

My thoughts on Mateu are that he’s a bit of an erratic referee. Sometimes I find that he tries to be too jovial with the players, which can lower his authority on the match and is typically less appreciated in the more important fixtures. However, when Mateu is fully focused and on his game, he can be truly excellent. In a CL semifinal, I’m certainly hoping for the latter version to come out.

Also of note is what might be the final European appointment for Alberto Undiano Mallenco, who will be the fourth official. A nice touch by UEFA ahead of his impending retirement.

April 31, 2019 – Camp Nou
FC Barcelona (ESP) vs Liverpool FC (ENG) – Semifinal, 1st Leg
REF: Björn Kuipers (NED)
AR1: Mario Diks (NED)
AR2: Erwin Zeinstra (NED)
4TH: Anastásios Sidirópoulos (GRE)
VAR: Danny Makkelie (NED)
AVAR: Pol van Boekel (NED)

Absolutely no surprises here, with Björn Kuipers taking the first leg of the CL’s showcase semifinal tie. With a Dutch team in the other semifinal, the Barcelona-Liverpool first leg is definitely the ‘safest’ match to give him, rather than a decisive second leg – the same reason Mateu Lahoz (who is Spanish) has the first game of the other tie.

Kuipers is the best ref in the world in my opinion, and has had two stellar knockout matches already in 2019, so this is a well-deserved appointment. The fact that fellow Dutchman Danny Makkelie is one of the most trusted and reliable VARs out there makes the decision even more of a no-brainer for UEFA, who are no doubt eager to avoid any video assistant mishaps in these all-important last-four matches.

One thing to note here – Kuipers’ regular AR1 Sander van Roekel is missing, just as he was for Kuipers’ last Eredivisie match. I don’t know the reasoning, but I would assume that either he’s injured or it’s for personal reasons.

With Mateu Lahoz and Kuipers confirmed in the Champions League, the attention now shifts to the Europa League appointments, which will be announced tomorrow. Unlike the CL matches, it is notoriously hard to predict referees for EL games, so I’m not even going to attempt to guess them in advance.

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