Champions League: Rizzoli and Skomina to referee United and City

Nicola Rizzoli and Damir Skomina
Zero tolerance: Both Rizzoli (left) and Skomina (right) are strict disciplinarians who try to let games flow but always act by the book by handing out cards

REFEREES Nicola Rizzoli and Damir Skomina will take charge of Manchester United and City’s Champions League group stage openers on Tuesday night.

Italian whistler Rizzoli – who handled the 2014 World Cup Final – has been assigned to United’s trip to Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven in Group B.

Skomina of Slovenia will be in the middle for Manchester City’s Group D encounter with last season’s finalists Juventus at the Etihad Stadium.

Elsewhere on September 15, French champions Paris St-Germain against Swedish side Malmo will be officiated by Russia’s Sergei Karasev.

Also in Group A, Croatia’s Ivan Bebek – who oversaw Wales’ goalless draw against Israel in Euro 2016 qualifying last week – has been selected for Real Madrid’s home clash with Ukranian outfit Shakhtar Donetsk.

The other game in United’s group between Wolfsburg and CSKA Moscow in Germany will be handled by Svein Oddvar Moen (Norway) while Czech Republic’s Pavel Kralovec is the referee for Sevilla against Borussia Monchengladbach in City’s group.

In Group C, Szymon Marciniak of Poland will be the man in charge for Atletico Madrid’s trip to Galatasaray with Greek whistler Tasos Sidiropoulos will be in Lisbon for Benfica’s opener against competition debutants Astana.

The officials for Wednesday night’s matches will be announced by Uefa on Monday.


Nicola Rizzoli referee (ROI v Scotland - 13th June 2015)
Man for the big occasion: Rizzoli was also in the middle for the 2010 Europa League final between Fulham and Atletico Madrid (Picture from Sky Sports)

The Modena-based referee has been a regular in Serie A since 2002 and won the division’s referee of the year three years between 2011 and 2013.

The 43-year-old has officiated in the Champions League for seven years and has overseen three semi-final ties as well as the 2013 final at Wembley between German sides Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich.

Rizzoli – who also went to Euro 2012 – handled four games in Brazil last summer whilst becoming the third Italian to referee a World Cup final when putting in a solid performance as Germany beat Argentina 1-0 after extra time at the Maracana.

A Fifa referee since 2007, the architect was also in the middle for Germany’s 3-1 win over Poland in Euro 2016 qualifying earlier this month and – in the same group – Republic of Ireland’s 1-1 draw with Scotland in Dublin in June.

Rizzoli took charge of five Champions League games last term including Barcelona’s 3-2 defeat at PSG and Real Madrid’s 3-0 win over Liverpool at Anfield in the group stages.

He has already officiated Monaco’s 2-1 second-leg victory over Valencia in the play-off round this term.

Rizzoli has previous history in sending off United players in Europe having dismissed Rafael against Bayern Munich in the 2010 quarter-finals and Marouane Fellaini when United were last in the group phase two years ago against Real Socediad.

PSV v Man United appointments (13th Sept 2015)
Rest of the team: Who will be assisting Rizzoli in the Netherlands on Tuesday night (Picture from


Damir Skomina referee (Spain v Slovakia - 5th September 2015)
Recent encounter: Skomina issued two yellow cards in Spain’s 2-0 win over Slovakia in Euro 2016 qualifying last week (Picture from Sky Sports)

The 39-year-old has been on the Fifa list since 2003 and – after being a fourth official at Euro 2008 and officiating at the 2008 Summer Olympics – was selected as one of 12 referees for the 2012 European Championships.

He handled two group stage games at the tournament and the last 16 encounter between Germany and Greece.

Indeed, Skomina has overseen two last-16 matches in the Champions League and Chelsea’s victory over Benfica in the 2012 quarter-final second leg in recent years.

The Koper-born official has had plenty of big-game experience having been appointed to referee the 2012 Uefa Super Cup involving Chelsea and Atletico Madrid before performing fourth official duties for the 2013 Champions League final.

Skomina – a Uefa Elite Category official since 2009 – was also in charge of the Europa League semi-final second leg between Spanish sides Valencia and Atletico Madrid in 2011-12.

He handled five Champions League games last term and handled Basel’s 1-1 draw with Maccabi Tel Aviv in the second leg of their play-off tie last month.

Father-of-two Skomina – who has also handled three domestic cup finals in his native Slovenia – is also a real estate agent and tourism organiser when he is not refereeing.

He will be most remembered by City supporters for taking charge of their 3-2 group-stage defeat by Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in September 2012.

It will be a first Juventus game for Skomina, whose last match involving an Italian side came in Fiorentina’s Europa League semi-final against Sevilla in May.

Manchester City v Juventus appointments (13th Sept 2015)
The third team: Skomina and the rest of his officials for the game in Manchester on Tuesday (Picture from


Man United and Man City collage
Home ties: United will welcome PSV to Old Trafford on November 25 while City only won one of their four Champions League games at the Etihad last term

United are back in the group stages of the elite competition following a year-long absence after thrashing Belgian outfit Club Bruges 7-1 on aggregate in the play-off round.

Louis van Gaal’s team make a first trip to the PSV Stadion since 2001 to face Eindhoven – who are appearing in the last 32 of the Champions League for the first time since 2008-09.

Their coach Philip Cocu will also be reunited with van Gaal – whom he played under for Barcelona and the Netherlands in the late 90s and early 2000s – and his side are currently unbeaten in 12 games in all competitions.

It will also be a quick return to his old stomping ground for United’s Dutch forward Memphis Depay, who was Eindhoven’s top scorer with 21 goals last term before the 21-year-old moved to Old Trafford for £25 million during the summer.

City, meanwhile, will be hoping to get off to a winning start in their fifth successive group-stage campaign against Serie A champions Juventus.

Manuel Pellegrini’s side have reached the last 16 in the past two seasons but their hopes were dashed by a 3-1 aggregate defeat to eventual winners Barcelona last term.

Current Premier League leaders City – who have a 100% league record after five games without conceding so far this term – have won just three of their last 11 home games in the competition.

Two-time European champions Juventus drew 1-1 at the Etihad in the 2010-11 Europa League but have not won in England since beating Manchester United in the Champions League group stages in 1996.

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