Europa League Referees, March 13

The Europa League referees for the Round of 16 first tie are announced, and it’s quite the impressive list.

Three of the eight – Cuneyt Cakir of Turkey, Bjorn Kuipers of the Netherlands (above) and Jonas Eriksson of Sweden – will referee in Brazil.

Of the remaining, Czech Pavel Kralovec is Elite, and Daniele Orsato of Italy is Elite Development.

It’s pretty clear that not only is UEFA taking this tournament seriously, but they’re not relying on only World Cup-bound refs for Champions League. This has given guys like Gianluca Rocchi (Italy), Mark Clattenburg (England) and even non-Elite referee Ivan Bebek (Croatia) shots at the big matches.

This week, Juventus v. Fiorentina is likely to be the star match, and it will be refereed by arguably the biggest star on the list, Kuipers. These two teams just met Sunday, so tensions are likely to run high. The Dutchman will have his work cut out for him.

As for Spurs, we get Jonas Eriksson and I couldn’t be happier. I think he’s one of the best out there, and I don’t care what Manuel Pellegrini says.

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