The referee for Wednesday's gigantic Champions League match has been chosen, and he is a great one.
Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli has been assigned by UEFA to officiate the European Cup game between Atlético Madrid and Barcelona at the Vicente Calderón stadium, with a spot in the semifinals at stake. This will be Rizzoli's seventh UCL assignment in the 2015/16 edition.
The 44-year-old is widely recognized as one of the best, if not the best, referee in world football today. With 14 years of experience in the Serie A and a FIFA umpire since 2007, Rizzoli has earned a great reputation for being a fair official who knows how to conduct tough matches. For instance, the Italian was the man with the whistle in the 2014 World Cup Final between Germany and Argentina.
Both Barça and Atlético have a history of games officiated by Rizzoli. He was the referee in Atleti's 2-0 group stage win against Olympiakos at the Calderón, as well as Atleti's 1-0 victory against Bayer Leverkusen in last season's Round of 16.
This will be Rizzoli's first assignment involving Barça this season, but the last game he officiated brings great memories for the Blaugrana, who won the first leg of last season's semifinal against Bayern Munich with a 3-0 result that practically guaranteed a spot in the Berlin Final, which Barça also won.
So the takeaway from Rizzoli's assignment is: he is amazing, perfect for a tough game like Wednesday and Barça won a big game with him as referee. Good choice, UEFA.