Massimo Busacca has been given the honour of refereeing the UEFA Champions League final and the 40-year-old talked uefa.com through his preparations for the match in Rome, saying "it is really as good as it gets".
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Swiss referee Massimo Busacca has been given the honour of taking charge of tonight's UEFA Champions League final between FC Barcelona and Manchester United FC, and the 40-year-old cannot wait to get going. Busacca – who has refereed both these sides in the past, including the first leg of last season's semi-final – talked uefa.com through his preparations for the game.
uefa.com: How does it feel a few hours ahead of a game like this?
Massimo Busacca: Very emotional. Since I arrived I have had the chance to get a feel for the Stadio Olimpico. It's incredible, it's like a dream. It will be incredible when it comes true because refereeing a Champions League final between Barcelona and United is really as good as it gets.
uefa.com: On Tuesday you trained on the stadium pitch. Do you always prepare like that?
Busacca: I have not changed anything from my normal routine in the approach to the game. If I have reached this level today, it's because I have done well in the past. Changing what has been my usual preparation would be excessive. Yesterday I had a small training session in the stadium to breathe the air, see the pitch, trying out my boots. It's something very important ahead of every game.
uefa.com: How useful is it to have already refereed these sides in the past?
Busacca: If I close my eyes I can see how the two teams play. They like to play good football, keeping possession. I will have to focus on not just following the ball, but on trying to anticipate a sudden pass in a crucial area of the pitch so that I will be ready to judge a difficult situation.
uefa.com: Will your family be at the stadium?
Busacca: Family is crucial if you want to reach a certain level. A referee must make many sacrifices and a good family situation is crucial. I'm really proud and happy that they will be at the stadium to watch this great match tonight.
uefa.com: When you were the fourth official in the final in Glasgow in 2003, were you dreaming of refereeing a final yourself?
Busacca: I don't think so. I was not as ambitious as I am today. I used to live day by day without planning so much. I was taking this job seriously, but now I know that if you want to reach a certain level you have to put an important goal in front of you. On that occasion I was still learning from great referees, but now it's different, you need ambitious objectives because the competition is fierce.
uefa.com: What is the difference between referring top names like Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi and players from lower divisions?
Busacca: On the pitch you have to respect every player. Obviously they play spectacular football, so we need to protect players like that. However, whenever I blow the whistle for me it's 'Team A' against 'Team B', 'Player A' against 'Player B'. I respect and try to be respected by everybody without considering their names.
uefa.com: What is your wish ahead of the final?
Busacca: I hope it will be a great game and that football will win because millions of people will watch a great game with great respect among players and between players and referees. We have the chance to send an important message to everybody watching this game.