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Jun 25, 2013

Webb set for Spain-Italy semi-final

Howard Webb has been selected to referee Thursday's Confederations Cup semi-final between Spain and Italy, although the news may not have been welcomed by many in the La Roja camp.

Webb is notorious in Spain for his decision not to send off Netherlands' Nigel de Jong for a karate-style challenge on Xabi Alonso during the 2010 World Cup final.

UEFA's decision to hand the English official last season's Champions League semi-final second leg, between Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, was therefore heavily criticised in AS and Marca as a result, with both Madrid-based papers devoting pages of coverage to his past mistakes.

The former policeman's performance during April's game at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu brought heavy post-match criticism from both coaches Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp, after Madrid had won 2-0 on the night but Dortmund progressed 4-3 on aggregate.

Mourinho was unhappy with a decision not to send off Mats Hummels for a possible handball which denied a potential goalscoring opportunity, while Klopp was incredulous that the Portuguese was complaining given how Webb had allowed Sergio Ramos to repeatedly manhandle Robert Lewandowski during the 90 minutes.

Thursday's game is Webb's first in charge of Spain since the World Cup final. He also took charge of Vicente Del Bosque's side's 1-0 loss against Switzerland in their opening group game of that tournament.

That was La Roja's last competitive defeat, and Sunday's 3-0 win over Nigeria in their final Confederations Cup group outing set a new world record of 28 unbeaten competitive games.

Webb's regular assistants, Michael Mullarkey and Darren Cann, will be running the line for Thursday's game at the Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza.

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