Mark van Bommel vs. Iker Casillas

I am a rather shallow human being, so also my second blogging post is about football, though I may be forgiven since the Ballon d’Or was just given to an unexpected winner.

Thank God for Leo Messi! The Golden Ball, which usually does not end up with the best player of the year, went to the best player of the year. And it went to someone who did not win either a Champions League or a World Cup, which is also unusual.

Cristiano Ronaldo played extremely well both before and after the World Cup, but was invisible during the event, and won nothing. Wesley Sneijder was brilliant with Inter, with whom he won three trophees, and the Netherlands were so lucky during the World Cup that still nobody seems to have realized how badly they actually played, so he ended up being voted the 2nd best player of the tournament, also because of scoring 5 goals (at least two of which were extremely lucky), though never playing as he did for Inter.

Of the Spanish candidates Iniesta hardly played at all before the World Cup, and was nowhere near his usual brilliance during, but did score the winning goal in the final. Still, too little really, to be voted player of the year. Xavi played well all through 2010 and was the one I would have put my money on: Both Messi and he won the Spanish title wth Barcelona, but Messi’s Argentina failed in the World Cup (though Messi didn’t fail, he just didn’t score goals). Piquet would have been a contender too, but defenders never win, except when their team wins the World Cup and there is noone else to give it to (ciao, Fabio!).

Messi won less, but played better than anyone else almost through the entire year. In the match that all football lovers will cherish, Barcelona’s hammering of Real Madrid, Messi didn’t score, but he gave to brilliant Xavi-like assists to Villa. That means Messi can do a Xavi, but I have never seen Xavi do a Messi yet and don’t expect he will, either and that is the main reason Messi is the best player of 2010.

Another reason is that Messi (unlike several other mega-stars) also seems to like it when his team mates score goals and hardly ever dives, which means that he can also be seen as the “good guy” in a profession where the “bad guys” are taking over.

And now to Casillas and Van Bommel. Van Bommel lost the World Cup, Casillas won it. Van Bommel was hated by everybody, though I think he actually committed fewer fouls than usual (let’s say De Jong beat him to it) and generally played an excellent World Cup. So far, so good. Casillas and Van Bommel were also the captains of their respective national teams during the world championships and the captains get to vote for who will be the player of the year and win the Ballon d’Or.

Since it is forbidden to vote for players of your own national team, Casillas could not vote for Xavi or Iniesta, and Van Bommel could not vote for Sneijder or Robben. Casillas voted for Sneijder and for Robben, and guess what… ? Van Bommel did the same, thereby making his vote invalid, but also not giving it to Xavi or Iniesta, incidentally his ex-team mates at Barcelona.

Van Bommel is a bad, bad loser and Casillas is a graceful winner. Van Bommel’s father-in-law, and coach of the Dutch national team, is Bert van Marwijk, and he voted the same way Van Bommel did. Thanks, guys!

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Howard Webb? Biased? Don’t think so!

Apparently the Dutch football (soccer, for the uninitiated) player Ryan Babel on his Twitter page posted a photograph of Howard Webb, the Englishman who refereed the final of the World Championships between Spain and the Netherlands, wearing a Manchester United shirt. Babel did this after his team, Liverpool, lost a match against Manchester United, according to Babel (and Liverpool supporters all over the world) becuase of mistakes by Webb.

An article in the Guardian, moreover, quotes the Liverpool coach’s son as saying on Twitter: “Fergie has his puppet Howard Webb on a piece of string.” Fergie being Sir Alex Feruson, the Manchester United coach.

I didn’t see the match, so I have no idea if Babel is right or not. I did see the final of the World Championship and the Netherlands were robbed by Howard Webb. Iniesta’s deciding goal came after, in the space of a couple of minutes, the Netherlands were not given a corner kick, the Dutch player Elia was fouled and a Spanish player was off-side, an off-side which was apparently not seen by Webb or his linesmen.

I’m Dutch, so I’m clearly biased. But biased or not, there were 3 incidents leading up to the Spanish goal where Webb could or should have taken another decision than the one he took.

Howard Webb is not biased. His decisions just before the goal was scored influenced the result and lost Holland the match. In the 110 minutes before the goal he could and should have given a red card to several Dutch (De Jong’s clumsy, stupid karate tackle, Van Persie for some unnecessary, and thus stupid, fouls in quick succession, most Dutch defenders for an accumulation of what for some reason people nowadays call “professional fouls”) and several Spanish (Puyol, for his tackle on Robben when only Casillas was between Robben and the goal, most Spanish defenders for an accumulation of what for some reason people nowadays call “professional fouls” and Iniesta, the man who scored the only goal in the match, for a succession of many fouls, repeated diving and retaliating on Van Bommel) players.

Howard Webb in ManU shirt

Manchester Webb

The Netherlands lost, because of a stupid game plan in general, and because Webb influenced the course of the game. Had the match ended in penalty kicks, Spain would have lost and would have had reason to complain because of Webb’s failure to hand out red cards to a number of Dutch players in the early stages of the match.

Babel is wrong: Howard Webb is not biased. Or maybe he was, in the Manchester United – Liverpool match. He was definitely not biased during the World Cup final, or maybe his bias shifted every five minutes and the Netherlands were just unlucky.

The most likely conclusion would however seem to be that Howard Webb is just an incredibly incompetent referee, who should never be allowed near any match of the least importance.

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Directions to the Little Italy Bed and Breakfast in Rome

From Termini: Upon entering the main hallway, turn left, towards the Via Giolitti-exit. Outside, turn left again and then right (Via Gioberti). Walk on till you come to Santa Maria Maggiore (a huge basilica) and turn left onto the Via Carlo Alberto. At the end of the street turn right and then take the second street on your left. This is the Via Ferruccio. Look for number 30 (just past the SPORT store) and buzz apartment 27 (the Little Italy).

From Ciampino Airport: Take the bus to Anagnina and from there the metro line A to Vittorio Emanuele. Follow the signs for the Via Buonarotti-exit. Turn right and then immediately left when you come up (Via Buonarotti). The first street on your left is the Via Ferruccio.
You can also take a (more expensive) bus directly to Termini. In that case, follow the previous directions.

From Fiumicino (Leonardo da Vinci) airport. Follow the signs for the first Via Giolitti-exit and, after brushing off the taxi-drivers (it is really only a 5 minute walk), cross the road a bit to the left and walk straight ahead till you come to a park. Turn right and then left. The second side street on your left is the Via Ferruccio.

A taxi from either airport should cost you no more than 50 Euros. Ask the price first and if you are charged more than that, just wait for the next one in line.

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Short description of the Bed and Breakfast Little Italy Rome

The Bed and Breakfast Little Italy is located in the heart of Rome, between the main railway station Roma Termini and the Coliseum.

The Dutch owner  speaks English, German, French, Spanish, Danish and of course Dutch and Italian.

Our ample breakfast includes cereal (2 different kinds) with milk, freshly baked bread, butter, different kinds of jam, a choice of 4 kinds of juice,  and coffee or
tea.

The Coliseum and Forum Romanum are only 5 minutes (on foot) from the Little Italy. It will take you no more than 2 minutes to walk to the Basilica of St. Mary Major and less than 10 minutes to get to the Terme di Diocleziano, the Museo Nazionale Romano and the Via Nazionale, one of Rome\’s main shopping streets. There is also a beautiful park, with a small children\’s playground, around the block.

It only takes 5 minutes to walk to Rome\’s main railway station and transportation hub, which makes it easy to visit sights that are away from the center (the Vatican City and the Sistine Chapel, the Catacombs) or even outside Rome (daytrips to Tivoli, Ostia Antica and the beach, but even Pompei, are well within the possibilities).

Rome’s oldest and biggest ice-cream parlor is only a couple of blocks away. There is a big supermarket around the corner, a daily food market a 2 minute walk away, and the area is full of good and cheap pizzerias, trattorias and (both Italian and ethnic) restaurants, some of which give discounts to our guests.

The Bed and Breakfast Little Italy was recently renovated (April 2006). The rooms are spacious and tastefully decorated and all have their own television set and a small refrigerator. The 19th century building the Little Italy is located in is in a quiet side street, a peaceful haven after the hustle and bustle of a day of sightseeing, queuing up and dealing with the way the Romans drive their cars.

The rooms are cleaned every day and every day we give you clean towels (big towels, fluffy towels!). There is hot water 24 hours a day.

Extra comforts:
– central heating in winter (and extra blankets in the unlikely event that
you are still cold)
– bedlinen is included in the price
– the rooms are cleaned every day
– our guests get clean towels every day
– free maps of rome
– tv room
– there is a common refrigerator for our guests
– all day coffee and tea making facilities
– laundromat, garage, bicycle and scooter hire around the corner
– internet point around the corner
– there are alarm clocks, umbrellas, ironing boards and hair-dryers on loan
for our guests
– free luggage storage on the day you leave

In case you are interested, you can write to info@littleitaly.com . The website is http://www.littleitalybb.com/. You can also visit my other B&B’s website: www.romanhostels.com and ask for information about the Little Italy.

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More Little Italy Bed and Breakfast photographs

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Little Italy Bed and Breakfast – photographs

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