Beach girls, fainting gringos & classic football

Summer’s in full swing down south, which in Argentina means lots of things.

First of all it means taking part in extensive, engrossed and gesticulatory conversations about the heat.

‘News’ channels, having noticed the country’s preferred topic of conversation, seize the opportunity and show hours of G-stringed señoritas frolicking on the beaches, just to make sure those of us in the city know what we're missing out on – sun, sand and...

"...and we'll get no joy until Messi pulls his finger out"

The matriarch of Argentine lunchtime TV, Mirtha Legrand (who has taken the genre to a new level by literally eating lunch while talking to her guests), decamps to seaside resort Mar del Plata for the 84th season of Lunch with Mirtha.

Oh alright, she’s actually 82, but she’s still going after all these years.

Meanwhile, gringo tourists just never learn, and think it’s a good idea to walk around Buenos Aires in the afternoon having filled their bellies with 800-gram steaks and a bottle of fine red wine, and are then surprised when they pass out in the heat.

As for the supporters of the Big Five, summer means one thing only – time for battle to commence.

It isn’t a lack of clásicos throughout the year that is behind the thinking of a preseason round-robin between the grandes.

There is a clásico, or even a superclasico, just about every weekend during the season.

Watching Boca Juniors, River Plate, Independiente, Racing and San Lorenzo go head to head together with a guest team does, however, guarantee a fiery start to the year’s football.

Decidedly self-assured coach giving interview in ripped jeans? Check.

Veteran striker dramatically saving the day in the first grudge match of the year? Of course.

Misfiring side failing to score? Never in any doubt.

Club boldly declaring it’ll challenge for silverware this year? Oh yes.

On-going saga over big-name signing showing no signs of being resolved? As predicted.

Transfer merry-go-round? Sí, señor.

So it is that San Lorenzo gaffer Diego Simeone says the gossip rags put him on their front covers "because I am successful," and has no qualms about being the only coach in Argentina who wears a tailor-made suit.

"Linesman! Check ma chillin' garms!"

Martín Palermo scores Another Dramatic Late Winner for Boca and sends everyone wild, everyone forgetting that it is only a pre-season friendly.

Racing fail to make Independiente’s net bulge in their first game of the year, but them redeem themselves beating River.

Independiente are going to make a serious challenge for the title according to the walking Slimfast advert that is Tolo Gallego ("I saw a photo of me in Mexico and thought, this can’t go on. I lost 18 kilos").

River are getting to the stage where any centre-forward will do. Apart from Cristián Fabbiani.

Boca, meanwhile, are going to loan Independiente a winger, get a keeper in return, send that keeper to Rosario and get a midfielder back for their troubles.

Pick of the action so far has been the San Lorenzo thriller with Boca, which had all the requisite elements to justify the ‘thriller’ status.

There were scandalously unawarded penalties ("The ref couldn’t see an elephant in a bidet," reported Olé), scandalously dished out red cards, and scandalous defending in some of the six goals although a brilliant lob from Bordagaray was the pick of the bunch.

There were also the time-honoured contributions from Boca’s old-timers – a horrendous mistake from Abbondanzieri and a late equaliser from Palermo.

And as if the temperature wasn’t high enough, San Lorenzo midfielder Cristián Leiva threw in his peso’s worth after the match.

"If Boca celebrate a draw like they did, it means they are chico – a small team," before adding "Boca’s defenders reckon they're hard, but they're the worst defence in Argentina."

The first superclásico of 2010 will give centre-forwardless River the chance to test that Boca defence next Wednesday – so expect more fighting talk in the build-up.

Just don’t expect the news to cover it, they’re too busy filming the girls at the beach. More to read...Argentina: Stats * Argie Bargy * News (South America) Blogs * News * Interviews * Forums * HomeFollow us: Twitter * Facebook