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Photograph: / Gellinger

Pierluigi Collina plays the scene again: a brilliant pass from Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci across half of the field to Emanuele Giaccherini, who scores the opening goal against Belgium.

"You must know that," Collina says, drumming his fingers on the table as he explains the skills of the two Italy players.

UEFA referee commission chief Collina is showing Euro 2016 reporters how referees at the tournament are not only taught the latest rules of the game but also how the teams they officiate play.

For the first time in tournament history referees are being visited by two coaches, who show them key elements of team tactics such as long passes from Bonucci.

"We could not accept that a referee says after the game 'I didn't expect this or that to happen,'" says Collina, who was arguably the first true star referee during his career.

The so-called match preparations are seen as one reason why there have been hardly any arguments about officiating at the month-long tournament - true to the motto of Dutch referee Bjoern Kuipers, who says the official has done everything right when people after a game wonder who the referee actually was.

There has so far been only one really controversial moment at Euro 2016, when Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic saved a penalty from Spain's Sergio Ramos after moving well infront of the goalline.

"The keeper moved forward. It was not spotted by the referee's team. It was a mistake. Unfortunately it happens, but it was a mistake within a match that was refereed well," Collina says.

Euro 2016 has seen an average of 3.58 bookings per game, down from 4.04 after the same amount of games in 2012. Offside calls have been correct in 93.54 per cent of incidents, up from 90.28 four years ago.

"They have done a good job, there have been no major problems so far. But we shouldn't be happy prematurely, there are still seven games left," UEFA interim general secretary Theodore Theodoridis says.

Twelve referees and their teams are left in France for the deciding stages while six have gone home.

Collina says that was not owing to poor performances but "rather for experience reasons. It was the first big tournament for many of them."

For some who remain, such as Germany's Felix Brych who officiates Thursday's quarter-final between Poland and Portugal, the showing of his national team will decide who will got the honour of being appointed for the July 10 final.

If Germany beat Italy on Saturday, Brych has to go home, and if Italy win that will end the tournament for Italian referee Nicola Rizzoli.

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