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Barcelona vs Real Madrid: Who is the referee for El Clásico?

Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea will be in charge of Sunday’s game at Camp Nou - this will be his third Clásico.


Sunday’s Clásico will be the fourth time that Barcelona and Real Madrid have met this season but not the last - they will be back at Camp Nou in just over a fortnight’s time to settle the Copa del Rey semi-final. Barcelona won the first leg by the minimum but it was Real Madrid who won the reverse league fixture earlier this season - beating Xavi’s side 3-1 at the Bernabéu back in October. Barça got their revenge by beating Madrid by the same score in the Spanish Super Cup final in January, just weeks before the Camp Nou offices were rocked by a corruption investigation.

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The most recent Clásicos, at least the two played since February, have been overshadowed by the Negreira case - in which Barcelona have been accused of making payments totalling 7.3 million euros to José María Enríquez Negreira, a high-ranking official at Spain’s Referees’ Committee. Negreira insists he offered “technical advice” to the Catalan club although it is not clear how much his consultancy role influenced Barcelona’s results on the pitch.

It means that every move, every decision from kick-off to the final whistle in Sunday’s game will be scrutinised more rigorously than before.

De Burgos Bengoetxea to referee El Clásico

Ricardo de Burgos Bengoetxea has been designated to referee Sunday’s Clásico at Camp Nou. This will be his third Clásico and the second of 2023. The Bilbao-born ref, who celebrated his 37th birthday on Thursday, was in charge of the Spanish Super Cup final played in Saudi Arabia at the start of the year. He issued four bookings in that game - two for each side: Mendy and Valverde for Madrid, Christensen and Araújo for Barça.

His first Clásico was also in the Super Cup. He was in charge of the first leg at Camp Nou on 13 August 2017. The visitors won 1-3 but the talking point after the game was Cristiano Ronaldo’s sending off. The Madrid forward was shown a yellow card for whipping of his shirt and flaunting his rippling pecs and biceps for the for tv cameras after scoring a superb goal on 79 minutes. Two minutes later, he went into the book again for simulation, judged to have gone down a little too easy from Umtiti’s challenge. Shown a red card, he then made matters even worse by shoving De Burgos Bengoetxea in the back, earning himself a five-match ban for his troubles.

De Burgos Bengoetxea sends Cristiano for an early bath.
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De Burgos Bengoetxea sends Cristiano for an early bath. FERNANDO ZUERASDIARIO AS

De Burgos Bengoetxea spent four seasons officiating in Spain’s second division before being promoted to the top tier in 2015. He is considered a no-nonsense ref who won’t think twice about reaching for his top pocket if things get out of hand on the pitch. This season he has shown 69 yellow cards and sent six players off in LaLiga in 25 games - four of them direct reds. He has awarded five penalties in those 25 league games, including two in Real Madrid’s 4-0 home win over Elche, both converted by Karim Benzema.

He has been in charge of 25 Barcelona games in the top flight with a balance 20 Barca wins, one draw and four defeats. As for Real Madrid, he has whistled 20 games, with a balance of 15 Madrid victories, three draws and two defeats.

In the VAR room at Camp Nou will be César Soto Grado.