Man in black

Ireland's players know the Italian who will referee their Euro 2016 tie with France well

Nicola Rizzoli is scheduled to officiate today’s last-16 match in Lyon.

Nicola Rizzoli surrounded Rizzoli in the the middle of Irish and Scottish players at the Aviva Stadium. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Ben Blake reports from Lyon 

ITALIAN REFEREE NICOLA Rizzoli will be the man in the middle when Ireland do battle with France at Euro 2016 this afternoon (2pm Irish time).

If the name rings a bell, it is because the 44-year-old architect has officiated in some of the world’s most high profile matches in recent years, including the 2013 Champions League final and at the 2014 World Cup.

Ireland fans may remember him too, as the man who took charge of the 1-1 draw with Scotland during the last qualifying campaign.

In a feisty affair at the Aviva Stadium 12 months ago, Rizzoli dished out yellow cards to James McCarthy, Glenn Whelan and James McClean as well as Scotland captain Steven Naismith

Upon hearing that opposite number Strachan had praised the official’s performance, Martin O’Neill replied post-match:

I’m not surprised Gordon thought that. I’m not surprised at all.

“Naismith refereed the game along with him for most of it. So, yeah, I’m sure he did. Obviously it wouldn’t be the view in our dressing room.”

Nicola Rizzoli yellow cards James McCarthy Showing James McCarthy a yellow card. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Last season, he was also in charge of the Champions League fixture between Manchester United and PSV Eindhoven, when English defender Luke Shaw had his leg broken by PSV’s Hector Moreno.

Although many believed it should have warranted a red card, the Mexican defender wasn’t even booked as the tackle was deemed a fair one.

This afternoon, Rizzoli will be under extra pressure given the fact that the host nation are involved and it is the first time these two country’s have played since Thierry Henry’s handball in 2009.

Listen to The42′s Ben Blake on the 98FM Euro 2016 Daily podcast throughout the tournament 

Letter from Lyon: France’s renewed obsession, and toppling the host nation on their patch nothing new for O’Neill

Good news from the Ireland camp on Ward and Walters ahead of France meeting

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