The point of time when Collina is going to publish the list of officials for UEFA Euro 2012 in Poland/Ukraine is coming closer. The last seasons, but especially the last months exposed some referees who should be seeded for a Euro slot, if I remember outstanding perfomances of e.g. Nicola Rizzoli in Arsenal-Barcelona. We however know that there are four countries where I personally cannot decide which referee should be chosen.
In the next days, I will write an article (each day one nation) about these cases:
24/10: ENG; 25/10: ESP; 26/10: GER; 27/10: POR; 28/10: completing the full list
Although Howard Webb (r.) should be seeded as World Cup and Champions League final referee (2010), Martin Atkinson showed a superb last season and was rewarded by a CL quarterfinal between Internazionale and Schalke (2-5) and a EL semifinal which was played between Braga and Benfica (1-0).
In England, Atkinson had some problems and struggled during the last weeks after e.g. a controversial sending-off in the Merseyside derby. I was not always content with his style which is sometimes pedantic and sometimes lenient, but UEFA showed that they trust him a lot: two very hot and important qualifiers (Bosnia-Belarus; Turkey-Germany) and of course the CL MD1 appointment for Barca-AC Milan.
Webb had a very hard season and could not show satisfying perfomances in 2010/2011. His first two Champions-League matches this season were however quite good, the difficult qualifier between Greece and Croatia was solved in a solid, but no totally convincing way.
Considering the fact that there was absolutely no consistency in FIFA's and UEFA's decisions with regard to English referees' nominations (2002: Poll, 2004: Riley, 2006: Poll, 2008: Webb, 2010: Webb), I think that Atkinson (l.) could have a realistic chance.
Another fact supports this impression: Atkinson was nearly always assisted by Mullarkey and Kirkup, sometimes by Cann. These are definitely the best English assistant referees (to my mind Child is the best, but he is still inexperienced and young) one can choose for a Euro.
To be honest, I assume that for these two referees it will be their last competition. After 2012, that is my feeling or my suggestion, it is Mark Clattenburg's time who is to my mind seeded for the place as additional assistant referee 1, perhaps along with Marriner, but perhaps Attwell has a chance, too.
Finally, another point should be paid attention to: we know about the difficult relation between Webb and Poland, normally I do not want the UEFA to pay attention to such polemic cases, however, considering the seriousness of this "difficult relation", well..perhaps it would not be a good idea to send Webb to Poland and Ukraine, not in order to "protect" the Polish fans, but rather to Webb's welfare.
My assumption is that UEFA will take:
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Assistant Referees: Michael Mullarkey, Peter Kirkup
Additional Assistant Referees: Mark Clattenburg, Andre Marriner