Ahead of the Clásico this coming weekend, AS sat down with the man in the middle, Alejandro José Hernández Hernández, to get a referee's perspective of one of the biggest games of the year.
Firstly, tell us about the medical you have to do before a game...
It’s a key day. You can’t have even the tiniest issue because if you have one they’ll put you in dry dock for a month. I’ve never failed the check in my career but when you pass it is a cause for celebration.
And so now you are officially going to referee Real Madrid against Barcelona…
Aside from the game you get assigned to, if you fail the medical it means the end of your season but yes, refereeing this game is a privilege and an opportunity…
"Every player dreams of playing in games like this and all the referees want to experience it"
Is the Clásico more special for referees?
We approach every game with the utmost professionalism, whatever the teams involved, but I’d be lying if I said no. Every player dreams of playing in games like this, every fan wants to watch it and all the referees want to experience it. It’s a springboard, a global showcase to prove that we are prepared and it can lead to opportunities at international level. It’s a challenge.
And also a potential pitfall?
Not at all. Ask any player about a game like this. It’s a chance to do your job on the biggest stage. At the end of the day your career path gives us all the opportunity to be there. It’s not a pitfall, it’s a privilege, but I am aware of the responsibility.
The players can either win or lose the game but it seems that it’s difficult for the referee to come out on top…
Our victory is to get all the decisions right. It’s difficult because there are so many during a game, they happen quickly and they’re difficult to judge, but we do our best, particularly to try and get the important decisions spot on so that the outcome of the game isn’t affected.
"After every game you look at your mistakes – and there are always mistakes"
This is your second Clásico: what do you remember about your first, Madrid’s 2-1 win in Camp Nou last season?
We watched the game afterwards to analyse it. After every game you look at your mistakes – and there are always mistakes – so that you don’t repeat them or at least try to minimize the possibility of doing so. It’s a privilege to referee two Clásicos in a year and you have to try and enjoy it, live the moment and may the best team win… and above all not through a mistake on our part.
How did you feel before that game?
You try to shut everything out. It’s one of the biggest games in the world but when the whistle goes you’re just one more player on the stage. That was our first Clásico and there was a little bit of incertitude. When you realise that you can pull it off, even with mistakes that you should and could iron out, but that you are capable, that makes the next time completely different. Experience helps you to approach it with more calm.
Did you watch the Madrid-Bayern game? There was a lot of controversy…
I did. I’m also on the pitch and I make mistakes… you have better games and worse games but Kassai’s ability and career are beyond doubt. Criticism is fine, but based on respect.
What do you think of VAR?
It’s not up to us. Referees have proven time and again our abilty to adapt to what comes our way. There are grey areas in football, subject to interpretation, and even the video won’t help to clear them up. Others are black and white and the replays will show whether you’re made the right decision or not.
- Roque Mesa1007Passes
*Update 20 de abril de 2017