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UEFA sends Collina to oversee ref

Former referee Pierluigi Collina has been sent by UEFA to monitor the performance of Belgian match official Frank de Bleeckere in the final Clasico clash of the season.

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Collina, UEFA's current head of referees, is viewed as the finest official of his generation and took command of the second leg the last time Barcelona and Real Madrid faced each other in the Champions League semi-finals in 2002.

With tensions high after a volatile first-leg clash, the result of which saw UEFA open up disciplinary proceedings against both clubs, European football's governing body has opted to make their referee observer, which is standard protocol for every match, a high-profile name.

De Bleeckere, 44, has a long-standing reputation as one of Europe's best referees and was at the centre of events last season for his handling of the second leg of the semi-final when Jose Mourinho's ten-man Inter Milan side eliminated Barcelona.

He told Le Soir: "Obviously I know what happened [in the first leg], but I will not take it into account for absolutely nothing. Every game has its own story and, together with my assistants, I will do everything in my power to ensure that we only talk about football.

"When you are a top-level referee you learn how to live with the critics be it positive or negative. There is no need for any drama."

UEFA also named another Italian official, Sergio di Cesare, to serve as its match delegate on Tuesday.

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