Spanish referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz will take charge of this season’s Champions League final between Manchester City and Chelsea, UEFA have confirmed.
City and Chelsea, who got the better of Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid, respectively, in their semi-final ties, will go head-to-head later this month in an all-English final to determine who will strip Bayern Munich of their current tag of Champions of Europe.
Although City and Chelsea have had their places in the final booked for a week, where they will have to travel to for the final is still undecided, with UEFA yet to announce an alternative venue to the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey.
Although Istanbul had been getting itself ready to host the most prestigious match in club football, the final will not be staged there because of the pandemic, as Turkey has been placed on the UK government’s ‘red list’ for international travel, meaning those who travel to Turkey are forced to quarantine upon their return to the UK.
In the last few days, Wembley had emerged as the frontrunner to host the final, but no definitive answer has yet been provided, with it now having become possible that the final could be staged in Portugal.
But whilst the wait goes on for a venue to be decided, the referee, at least, has been confirmed, with Mateu Lahoz being handed the honour of taking centre stage.
The 44-year-old, who has not been afraid to show players a yellow card this season, handing out a total of 134 in 29 matches, has took charge of five Champions League matches this season, including the first-leg of the quarter-final thriller between Bayern Munich and PSG.
Although he has not overseen a Chelsea or City game this season, Mateu Lahoz does have history with City, especially City boss Pep Guardiola.
The Valencia-born whistle-blower, who has not taken charge of a Chelsea fixture since 2015, took charge of City’s Champions League quarter-final second-leg defeat to Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium in 2018. Already 3-0 down from the first-leg at Anfield, Guardiola’s side needed to stage a remarkable comeback in the return-leg.
However, goals from Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino sealed Liverpool’s route to the semi-finals, winning the match 2-1 on the night and 5-1 on aggregate.
However, things could have turned out differently if Leroy Sane’s goal shortly before half time had made it 2-0 to City on the night. The German, now at Bayern Munich, thought he had scored to double City’s lead only for it to be deemed offside, despite the ball coming off of Liverpool’s James Milner.
The decision was blasted by Guardiola after the game, as he was left to rue what might have been.
The City chief told BT Sport: “I said it [Sane’s effort] was a goal. I didn’t insult him, I was polite, I was correct. But Mateu Lahoz is a special guy, he likes to be different, he likes to be special.
“I know what happened in Monaco last season, at 1-1, with an incredible penalty from Sergio Aguero. He’s special. When everybody sees things, he likes to decide the opposite. I didn’t say any wrong word.”
With that said, Guardiola will no doubt have this memory going through his brain now that Mateu Lahoz has been named as the man to take charge of the final.
As well as that, the former Barcelona boss will be hoping that the Spaniard is not the centre of attention this time around and that the game passes without him having to make any big decisions that have a major impact on proceedings.
Mateu Lahoz has refereed four City games in the past, the last of which was that eventful evening against Liverpool. They have been victorious in the other three he has taken charge of.
Source by Football London