Jurgen Klopp wasn’t very happy with Carlos Velasco Carballo’s refereeing performance in Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Manchester United in the Europa League.
He’s unlikely to be pleased with the official for the return leg, either.
Milorad Mazic is probably the last referee Klopp and Louis van Gaal want to see at Old Trafford on Thursday after he was voted the worst official at the 2014 World Cup.
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But that’s exactly who is in charge of the Europa League second leg tie, as reported by the Manchester Evening News.
Mazic’s performance in Brazil was perhaps best summed up by Iran boss Carlos Queiroz asking: “How can this guy sleep tonight, or for the rest of his life?”
That was due to the Serbian failing to award Queiroz’s team a penalty against Argentina. The Iranian Football Federation even filed a complaint to FIFA after the game.
Mazic also sparked controversy by giving Germany a contentious penalty in their game with Portugal before sending off Pepe.
At the end of the tournament, Mazic collected 87,362 votes out of 110,000 when redcardtheref.com created a poll to find out the worst official.
It’s safe to say Mazic has few admirers.
Criticism from players
Another person who isn’t a fan is Atletico Madrid midfielder Mario Suarez. After last season’s Champions League quarter-final first leg clash between Atleti and Real Madrid at the Vicente Calderon, which ended 0-0, Suarez didn’t hold back in his criticism of the referee.
“The referee is very bad,” he said. “They can’t use a Serbian referee for these type of games, with all my respect. I hope that in the return leg they pick a better referee.”
Quite how Mazic has managed to bag so many big clashes is anyone’s guess. And European matches don’t get much bigger than Manchester United v Liverpool.
Last week’s encounter featured a controversial penalty decision and a late elbow aimed at a player.
Given that Mazic has shown 27 yellow cards and one red in this season’s Champions League, the chances of any player going unpunished are about as slim as Van Gaal’s chances of receiving his own statue outside Old Trafford.
Crucial period for Van Gaal
The Dutchman has come under fire for United’s stuttering campaign. It’s unlikely the Red Devils will reach the quarter-finals of the Europa League while they are four points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City in the Premier League standings.
Their best chance of silverware is via the FA Cup but an awkward quarter-final replay with West Ham at Upton Park awaits.
Goals from Daniel Sturridge and Roberto Firmino give Klopp’s team a great chance of reaching the last eight. It will mark a stunning first season in England if the German is able to guide his team to European victory but he’s likely to meet his former team and the tournament favourites Borussia Dortmund along the way.