Celtic’s match with Valencia tomorrow night will be refereed by Romanian Ovidiu Hategan.
The Europa League last-32 first-leg clash is going to be a massive one. It’s one of the most attractive ties of the round, and there’s no denying Celtic have a hard task.
But it’s also fun to have a quick look at what the referee is going to be like.
Celtic have had plenty of squabbles with referees in Scotland this season. Tom Boyd claimed it would take 100 years for decisions to be evened up in Scottish football.
The club also released a statement on the disciplinary system in Scotland. This came after John Beaton allowed several shocking challenges from Rangers players go unpunished in December’s Old Firm derby.
But Thursday night will see a foreign, neutral referee take charge. And Celtic’s nights with Hategan in charge have been as mixed as can be.
His first Celtic match came back in 2016. It was our heaviest defeat ever on the European stage. Barcelona inflicted a night to forget on the Scottish Champions, hammering Celtic 7-0 to hand Brendan Rodgers his first defeat at the Hoops.
Hategan did give Celtic a penalty that night that Moussa Dembele missed, but it was a European horror night overall.
A night to remember and a night to forget
Fortunately, not all of our luck with Hategan is bad. He was also in charge on the night Celtic mauled Astana 5-0 at Parkhead. He put in a terrific performance that night, letting the game flow and not having a single complaint against him.
In terms of Hategan’s stats, the Romanian has dished out cards in all of his European games this season. That’s not unusual, however.
He’s shown 16 yellow cards and one red in the five European and Nations League matches he’s been involved in. Therefore, there appears to be a slight strictness there, but nothing to be too concerned about.
In his last 20 matches in Europe, however, he has dished out eight red cards. He’s clearly not afraid to send anyone off he feels may deserve it.
You might also recognise him as the referee whom Virgil Van Dijk consoled after a Germany-Netherlands game in the Nations League last year, after a personal loss.
But in terms of his refereeing, he seems a top professional. In truth, he can’t really be any worse than the Scottish officials anyway, can he?