Friday, 8 June 2012

England’s first referee

England and France will be happy to hear that one of UEFA’s top referees is in line to officiate their clash on Monday. Italian ref Nicola Rizzoli has been handed the duty of managing what is expected to be a feisty encounter in Group D, with both teams looking for a winning start to the competition.

What England can expect from Rizzoli is a man that knows his own mind. The determined Italian has made a name for himself in Serie A since joining the league 10 years ago, and has gone on to become an ‘elite’ UEFA official, taking charge of the 2010 Europa League final.

Rizzoli will let Monday’s game flow, but is not scared of holding up play to sort out miscreants. His Serie A average of 4.89 yellow cards per match does front him as one of the strictest referees in Europe, but his no-nonsense attitude should help England against France.

For if England can hit the wings going forward on Monday, cards could start to flourish down France’s flanks.

The pace of Theo Walcott and Ashley Young should attract midfielders Yann M’Vila and Yohan Cabaye, and with France more likely to play a high line that Sweden or Ukraine, England’s wingers will find space to surge in to.

If the space can be found, M’Vila and Cabaye will follow: doubling up with respective full-backs to prevent crosses for the looming Andy Carroll. For France will defend doggedly to prevent balls into the box, and should commit a good number of fouls in the process.

This can only be good news for England with a referee unfazed to express himself on the major stage. He is as happy to discuss incidents with players as he is to order them about, an attribute that should endear him to Roy Hodgson’s men.

Euro 2012 kicks off today! For all the latest Betfair Russia v Czech Republic odds and Betfair Poland v Greece Odds head over to Betfair’s Euro 2012 page.