Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Champions League 2018/19 - Referee Appointments - Third Qualifying Round (I)

Thank to h_demboveac on Twitter we know the referees who will officiate first legs of 2018/19 UEFA Champions League Third Qualifying Round. 
Aliaksiej Kuĺbakoŭ (BLR) in charge of Benfica - Fenerbahçe

7 August 2018, 16:00 CET - Astana (Astana Arena)
FC Astana (KAZ) - GNK Dinamo (CRO)
Referee: John Beaton (SCO)
Assistant Referee 1: Alastair Mather (SCO)
Assistant Referee 2: Sean Carr (SCO)
Fourth Official: Steven McLean (SCO)
UEFA Referee Observer: Vladimír Medveď (SVK)
UEFA Delegate: Kris Bellon (BEL)

7 August 2018, 19:00 CET - Baku (Tofiq Bəhramov adına Respublika Stadionu)
Qarabağ FK (AZE) - FC BATE Borisov (BLR)
Referee: Andreas Ekberg (SWE)
Assistant Referee 1: Mehmet Culum (SWE)
Assistant Referee 2: Stefan Hallberg (SWE)
Fourth Official: Kristoffer Karlsson (SWE)
UEFA Referee Observer: Robert Sedlacek (AUT)
UEFA Delegate: Olzhas Abrayev (KAZ)

7 August 2018, 19:15 CET - Malmö (Swedbank Stadion)
Malmö FF (SWE) - MOL Vidi FC (HUN)
Referee: Matej Jug (SVN)
Assistant Referee 1: Matej Žunič (SVN)
Assistant Referee 2: Manuel Vidali (SVN)
Fourth Official: Dejan Balažič (SVN)
UEFA Referee Observer: Zbigniew Przesmycki (POL)
UEFA Delegate: Jacques Antenen (SUI)

7 August 2018, 19:30 CET - Prague (Eden Aréna)
SK Slavia Praha (CZE) - FC Dynamo Kyiv (UKR)
Referee: Craig Pawson (ENG)
Assistant Referee 1: Lee Betts (ENG)
Assistant Referee 2: Ian Hussin (ENG)
Fourth Official: Christopher Kavanagh (ENG)
UEFA Referee Observer: Ichko Lozev (BUL)
UEFA Delegate: Bakar Zhordania (GEO)

7 August 2018, 20:00 CET - Liège (Stade Maurice Dufrasne)
Royal Standard de Liège (BEL) - AFC Ajax (NED)
Referee: Tobias Stieler (GER)
Assistant Referee 1: Marco Achmüller (GER)
Assistant Referee 2: Christian Gittelmann (GER)
Fourth Official: Harm Osmers (GER)
UEFA Referee Observer: Luciano Luci (ITA)
UEFA Delegate: Rudolf Řepka (CZE)

7 August 2018, 20:30 CET - Belgrade (Stadion Rajko Mitić)
FK Crvena zvezda (SRB) - FC Spartak Trnava (SVK)
Referee: Carlos del Cerro Grande (ESP)
Assistant Referee 1: Juan Carlos Yuste Jiménez (ESP)
Assistant Referee 2: Abrahám Álvarez Cantón (ESP)
Fourth Official: Santiago Jaime Latre (ESP)
UEFA Referee Observer: Terje Hauge (NOR)
UEFA Delegate: José Guilherme Aguiar (POR)

7 August 2018, 21:00 CET - Lisbon (Estádio do SL Benfica)
SL Benfica (POR) - Fenerbahçe SK (TUR)
Referee: Aliaksiej Kuĺbakoŭ (BLR)
Assistant Referee 1: Dzmitryj Žuk (BLR)
Assistant Referee 2: Alieh Maslianka (BLR)
Fourth Official: Dzianis Ščarbakoŭ (BLR)
UEFA Referee Observer: Manuel Enrique Mejuto González (ESP)
UEFA Delegate: Martin Sturkenboom (NED)

8 August 2018, 19:00 CET - Salzburg (Red Bull Arena)
FC Red Bull Salzburg (AUT) - KF Shkëndija (MKD)
Referee: Əliyar Ağayev (AZE)
Assistant Referee 1: Zeynal Zeynalov (AZE)
Assistant Referee 2: Rza Məmmədov (AZE)
Fourth Official: Orxan Məmmədov (AZE)
UEFA Referee Observer: Alfredo Trentalange (ITA)
UEFA Delegate: Eduard Dervishaj Nelaj (ESP)

8 August 2018, 19:00 CET - Thessaloniki (Stádio Toúmbas)
PAOK FC (GRE) - FC Spartak Moskva (RUS)
Referee: Orel Grinfeld (ISR)
Assistant Referee 1: Idan Yarkoni (ISR)
Assistant Referee 2: Roy Hassan (ISR)
Fourth Official: Alon Yefet (ISR)
UEFA Referee Observer: Konrad Plautz (AUT)
UEFA Delegate: Christian Kofoed (DEN)

8 August 2018, 20:45 CET - Glasgow (Celtic Park)
Celtic FC (SCO) - AEK Athens FC (GRE)
Referee: Luca Banti (ITA)
Assistant Referee 1: Alessandro Costanzo (ITA)
Assistant Referee 2: Filippo Valeriani (ITA)
Fourth Official: Michael Fabbri (ITA)
UEFA Referee Observer: Rodger Gifford (WAL)
UEFA Delegate: Markus Stenger (GER)


  1. Surprised Bebek didnt get any match in this phase of CL.
    Maybe EL for him.

  2. Someone who knows??? probably there is a relationship between Kristoffer Karlsson, and World Cup 1994 referee/.uefa observer Bo Karlsson?

    1. Father and son if I am not wrong?

    2. They have no connection at all. Karlsson is one of the most popular names in sweden with between 150000 and 200000 people having that name. Bo Karlsson has a son who is a referee but not at international level(swedish 2nd division).
      Another thing thats intresting is that he seems to be Ekbergs new fourth official i all Ekbergs ikternational games so probably he will be AAR to Ekberg.

  3. Kulbakov in 2016 excellently worked in Bilbao, the playoff match EL Athletic-Marcel. After that, as fourth official was in France at the European Championships. It is not clear why after this his career stalled. I do not think that the match next week will be difficult for him.

  4. News from other sports (handball):

    The Norwegian referees Kjersti Arntsen and Guro Røen (38 and 31) have retired. They have achieved the incredible feat of being the highest ranked referee pair, also in the men's categories, in one of the best countries in handball. They have refereed men's cup finals, decisive men's league games, world and european championships (no final because of Norway being in most of them), and the 2016 Olympics womens' final.

    However, the IHF (int. handball federation didn't want to appoint them to big mens' games or tournaments, pre-selecting the number 2 ranked pair (men) for the upcoming WC.

    Infact these two have been great role models and regarded as perhaps the best referees in Norway independent of sport or gender, often lecturing football referees on personality and player management as well.

    Is it thinkable to have female referees with such a standing in football too one day, and a similar treatment from the international federations? I can imagine Bibiana being disappointed with not getting appointed for mens' games in UEFA and FIFA. Surely she would be competent enough for UEFA cat 1, refereeing Europa League at least.

    1. Thank you for this info. Interesting for me as a huge handball fan. Btw, do you know any handball refereeing blog like this one or of any kind that can be informative

    2. @handball: there are also the Bonaventura sisters, who refereed at the last men's world cup - so it did not seem impossible for the Norwegians to be appointed

      @Steinhaus: Yes, she probably could manage Europa League matches, but that counts for all Bundesliga (and other top league) referees, I think. She should not have an disavantage by her gender, but she should be in the top 10 of Bundesliga referees to referee internationally. Otherwise, it would be unfair against her male colleagues. If she is handled like a man in the same position, she would
      a) not be on the male FIFA list yet, because she is only 1 year in Bundesliga
      b) have to wait for one of the ten German FIFA spots available
      c) be already too old to be included in the list anyway.

      Maybe she has however some chances in the next years, because she is already a FIFA referee, but if that happens, she is surely having some advantages from her gender.

    3. Bibiana Steinhaus is far away from being topref in Bundesliga. That has def. nothing to do with gender. We have very promising younger refs like Brand, Jablonski, Petersen and especially Brand should be the next FIFA-Ref in Germany with his 29 years and 3 years in Bundesliga with a really impressing development...

    4. The best referees last generation are the best observers

  5. Steiler with a good first half in Standard Liege - Ajax. Let the game develop. Could ‘ve whistled a few more foules when using a strict Style. Players fully accept him. Match is not challenging so far in case of intensity harsh tackles etc. So expected level so far.

    1. Currently min 60. 3 YC. 1 for Sta and 2 for AJA. All supportable although the YC FOR #AJA31 looked harsh and more a call by AR1 or the FO. Card was shown very late.

      Penalty call by crowd for STA correctly not given. Still good management on the small and bigger fouls.

    2. Good match by Stieler. End of the match it got more intense. After two rejected penalty calls in a few minutes Stieler awarded a penalty in min 90. Correct call but a minor foul. Following the line by Stieler i believe that if this had happend not shortly after the two rejected penalty calls Stieler wouldn’t have whistled it. Now pressure was to high and he needed to adjust his style and line of strictness.

  6. Challenging start for Kulbakov with a penalty appeal by Benfica... high pressure there.

  7. Matej Jug had an excellent performance in Malmö-Vidi. Some period of first half was challenging game, but IMO because of his work, it not happened later. Well done Mr. Jug.

    1. I only saw 15-20 minutes of the first half, but I fully agree with you Márk.
      A shame he will probably not be an Elite referee now, IMO.

  8. Just saw Red Star's penalty, definitely a dive, mistake from the Spanish referee.

    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaXDmaNH8EE
      Attacker looked for the contact and he created it.
      Definitely a dive for me, but impossible for referee.
      This is VAR stuff.

    2. It's a big penalti, perfect refferee

    3. At least not a clear error IMO, because the attacker has no chance to avoid the contact after his final touch of the ball.

    4. Penalty is a supportable decision (and even correct for me, looking at the first replay). The second replay opens the door for a dive, but the angle nor the quality of the video are good enough to see when the contact happened and if the player starts falling before or not.

  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Please use different words to write your opinions.

    2. In what situation is the RC? Normal game and calm style.

  10. SL Benfica - Fenerbahçe SK
    Aliaksiej Kuĺbakoŭ (BLR)
    Žuk, Maslianka, Ščarbakoŭ
    Obs: Mejuto González (ESP)

    Overall good piece of refereeing by the Belorussian.
    Full control of the hottest fixture of this matchday, and first YC at 78' are self-evident of a good performance.

    Some points to consider:
    => Absolutely EXCELLENT foul detection. The match had a high number of duels to evaluate, and a lot of players falling. Throughout the whole match, I only counted two mistakes in this area- that's sth really great in such a match. His feeling for simulations was simply outstanding IMO. His foul selection was also brave, he declined to whistle minor contacts (not dives, just small fouls) and kept the match flowing well.
    Very impressive in this regard for my taste.

    => Together with this foul detection, his positioning/movement meant he was always close to assess the duels, he must have covered a lot of miles in this match. These two facets assured his control of this match.

    => The (four) cards given by Kuĺbakoŭ were spot on, and moreover sensible. After the opening YC to FEN09 for dissent, it was absolutely smart to caution BEN03 a minute later for sth similar. Two cautions for tackles latterly were mandatory and correct. Also his merit that the first card given was 78', in such a match, with the control.

    => Two pretty mandatory cautions for reckless tackles were missed (25', 62'), leading me on to...

    => There was one part of the performance that irritated me a bit. It seemed there was no middle step between a foul, and a YC.
    - At around 20', there was a pull on a BEN player that had good chances to run free in an attacking position. A YC would have been supportable here, but I think this was a very good moment to issue a public, or at least subtle warning, to the offending player. Apparently, neither happened.
    - As aforementioned two heavy tackles were (not) sanctioned, only with a foul. His approach makes me wonder whether he missed the severity of these fouls on a perception level, or he had the idea that these were at least on the borderline to YC (at least at 25' it was basically clear IMO).
    - He generally presented himself as quite unsociable during the match, his talks with the players were infrequent. Actually this is fine, and in any case this succeeded tonight. But sometimes it is 'mandatory' or at least sensible to have such conversations.
    * I am not saying for a moment that every referee has to be Mateu Lahoz, of course this is wrong. I love refereeing for the diversity in human beings that they all bring to the same leadership role on the pitch. But, Kuĺbakoŭ should have been more preventative with these situations especially. My big advice following this match would be:
    Use all ladders on the stepped approach!!

    => His prevention, reactively providing his presence at hot moments, was used effectively (55', 80ish'). Perhaps this could have been supported with some small words also.

    => His assistant referees had a reasonable amount of decisions to compute, and more often than not they were right. Only a couple of small mistakes. Well Done. It seemed Kuĺbakoŭ is fortunate in this respect (Žuk was good at his U21 EURO IIRC), especially considering other referees from 'minor' nations, eg Stavrev aren't so lucky. His ARs, at least based on tonight, should heighten his standing, not stagnate it.

    => Many players came to shake the referees hands at the the end of the match. Especially considering Kuĺbakoŭ's approach which wasn't so talkative, is a testament to the good job that they made.

    So in summary, the Belorussian team can be happy with their performance tonight. It was a show of trust in them that they were assigned this top match in CL Qualification, and they repaid the trust doing a good job. Especially Kuĺbakoŭ's evaluation of duels was really impressive. He should work on a more preventative stepped approach, including verbally warning players.

    But overall, well done!

    1. You marked an important moment in the style of Kulbakov. He prefers the continuous flow of the game, he does not rip the game into pieces with optional whistles. This style is usually accepted by players, but good fitness is required.

    2. It is always a pleasure to read your detailed analysis, Mikael.
      @Piknometr you could explain your point of view, instead of answering with such question...

  11. Fantastic match by the Belorussian referee tonight, I was absolutely delighted. Hoping for him to keep his form.

  12. Excellent 0-2 call by AR1 Idan Yarkoni in PAOK - Spartak. The ball crossed the line before it was kicked away by goalkeeper.

  13. Now a correct penalty call for handball by Grienfeld on 27'

  14. Good first half by Grinfeld in Thessaloniki. Good foul detection and both cautions are correct. However, he could have shown 1 more.

    The handball penalty is correct on first view. Hand is on an unnatural position.

    AR1 with a correct call on 0-2. The ball has crossed the line.

    1. The second penalty was again correct, even though we don't see it so often on that level. Defender clearly holds the opponent.

      IMO, Grinfeld had a big problem with player management. He didn't excibit a strong personality which allowed some players to ignore/not respect him.

      Moreover there are 2 scenes that many players participated at a confrontation. The first was around 5-6' and ended without any warning. At the second one at min. 74-75' there was only 1 caution for the initial foul.

      8.2 for me.

  15. And now the second correct penalty call by Grinfeld, in favor of Spartak this time. Shirt pulling.

  16. 13' Spot on decision by Banti at Celtic vs AEK. Foul commited just outside the box.

    1. 57' Debatable 2nd YC for AEK. Imo it was too harsh a decision

  17. Banti with big call;red card for AEK player for SPA.
    I didnt see good replay,but it looked like Celtic player tripped himself.

  18. Seems as if Ağayev had a challenging night in Salzburg. I saw only a few situations, including 2 correct penalties, 1 correct 2nd YC (didn't see the first one for this player, it was for a dive, some said it was a wrong one) and 1 YC which actually was more a RC for me (serious foul play). Furthermore there was an extreme thunderstorm, the game was interrupted for some minutes after an electricity cut, the few last minutes were more waterpolo than football and surely irregular.

  19. OT: Juan Martínez Munuera in charge of COTIF final between Rusia U-20 and Argentina U-20.

  20. Refereeing highlights of Royal Standard de Liège - AFC Ajax (Tobias Stieler)


    1. I was positively impressed by Stieler, he presents himself in a very easy and friendly manner with players, he looks to be a very human referee.Watching him, one has the sensation he would never like to be the protagonist on the pitch. Disciplinary control was very good, maybe in my opinion only one missed YC but all the rest was correct / supportable. The card I would have liked to see occurred in the added time of first half, close to FO, maybe you remember the foul. Then, there was also another situation, 85', in which card could have been issued, but here not 100% mandatory if you ask me, also because not 100% clear the kind of contact with foot. Excellent management of the players from home team who tried to win an easy penalty during the game, and especially in last minutes. All rejected penalty appeals are for sure at least supportable choices. Then, the major call in the last minutes of the game: supportable as well. The replay shows that contact is not blatant, but the live sequence, if you only watch it, looks to be a clearer situation. In my opinion absolutely OK to whistle. I don't think he was influenced by the previous appeals, in case he would have played on again... but this looked to be a penalty to be whistled, without the benefit of replay, that can raise some questions. However, we should not be so much interested in that, because we must read also the game. Excellent both assistant referees, if I'm not wrong, no mistakes at all, especially AR1 many important situations correctly assessed + always ready to report fouls. In my opinion this can be a very good performance, full 8.4. We will see his next games.

  21. Refereeing highlights of Qarabağ FK - FC BATE Borisov (Andreas Ekberg)



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