Arsenal are back in European action on Thursday night after a long break as they take on Sporting CP in Lisbon. Thanks to winning their Europa League group, Arsenal were not involved in the knockout round playoffs and were able to sit tight and wait for their round of 16 opponents.
The Premier League leaders have been given a tricky tie against Sporting but it’s one that they should be winning. They’re in the early 17:45 GMT slot at Estadio Jose Alvalade against Ruben Amorim’s side who sit fourth in the Primeira Liga and are not having the season they hoped.
Tobias Stieler has been tasked with guiding the teams through the match, so here is what you need to know about the referee and his history with both clubs.
German referee Tobias Stieler is 41 years old and originally comes from Hamburg. He’s been a FIFA referee since 2014 and made his Bundesliga debut back in early 2012, meaning he has a healthy level of experience under his belt now.
He’s since refereed 160 Bundesliga matches, 11 Champions League games and 17 Europa League games along with various qualifiers both domestically and in European and international competitions. He has not refereed a World Cup game but he has been in charge of five World Cup qualifiers.
Intriguingly, during his 39 games in the German third tier, he gave out 12 straight red cards. In his 160 Bundesliga games, he has only given out two more straight red cards.
This will be the first time Stieler has taken charge of a game involving Arsenal. Despite his healthy number of European matches, he has managed to avoid a trip to the Emirates.
While he may not have refereed an Arsenal game, there is some evidence that Siebert will resort to lots of yellow cards should a game call for it. In the 2020/21 Champions League, he gave out three yellows in Marseille 0-3 Manchester City, five in Liverpool 1-0 Ajax, seven in Barcelona 0-3 Juventus – in which he also awarded two penalties – and three yellows and a red card in Atalanta 0-1 Real Madrid.
He is not popular with Atalanta fans after that latter game as he sent Remo Freuler off for a foul on Ferland Mendy in the 17th minute which drastically affected the rest of the tie.
The German has only been in charge of one Sporting CP game during his career and it was way back in 2018. He was the referee for their Europa League last 16 tie against Viktoria Plzen and it was certainly dramatic.
Sporting were 2-0 up from the first leg but then lost the first 90 minutes in the Czech Republic 2-0, meaning the game went to extra time. The Portuguese side grabbed the winner in extra-time after a Bruno Fernandes assist. Stieler had given Sporting a penalty in stoppage time of the 90 but Bas Dost missed it.