Five-star signings, six-pointers & gratuitous cleavage

For those who can’t get their heads around why another season is starting in Argentina, here’s a quick round-up of why the short-season format reigns.

The theory goes like this:

Smaller clubs have more chance of competing for honours than over a ‘full’ season; two champions a year = more fun; bad seasons can be swept under the carpet quickly; waste of money signings can be off-loaded sooner; and when it all goes horribly wrong, fans’ expectations can be renewed sooner.

The flip side of the coin for players and bosses alike is pressure, and lots of it.

In Avellaneda, however, that’s not a problem.

As if the pressure-pot atmosphere wasn’t enough at Racing thanks to kicking off Clausura 2010 in the relegation play-off position, the Academy have upped the ante.

After making a trio of fine signings, there was ‘talk’ of the title.

Their first challenge of the season came in the form of a direct rival for the drop, Central.

It was, as Claudio Vivas defined it, a ‘final.’

Unflinching in the face of the season’s first six-pointer, Perón’s team of choice trounced the Rosarinos 3-0.

All three new boys put in good performances: Licht was man of the match, while Gabriel Hauche and Claudio Bieler combined for the third.

Vivas, in his second job in the hot seat, seems happy to keep the pressure on his players, and himself, for the remainder of the campaign.

“There are 18 finals left,” he said yesterday.

We still don’t know whether he means to avoid relegation or fight for the title - such is the schizophrenic beauty of Argentine football.

Anyway, there are indeed 18 matchdays left.

With the World Cup compressing the season, plus the televisual orgy of football fútbol para todos thrown in for fun, it means there will be top-flight action pretty much every day for the next four months.

So it’s back to work.

Diego Simeone was clearly satisfied enough with his personal performance in pre-season.

He unbuttoned his tailored white shirt to just below the pectoral region during San Lorenzo’s win over Atlético Tucumán, ensuring a gratuitous cleavage shot usually reserved for wannabe WAGs on afternoon TV. Apparently.

Racing’s summer signings stole the show, but two other new boys also deserve a mention.

While doing an Adebayor and celebrating goals against your former club in front of your former fans is all well and good, it can pose a problem when that former club owns your transfer rights and decides to bring you back home.

Vélez saw Santiago Silva’s goals for Banfield, even the one against them, far too tempting and have made Uruguayan their front-man for the campaign.

He went some of the way of making up with the new old fans with his first goal of the season, beer-guzzling celebration included.

VIDEO Boots of beer: watch it here

But then he rather undid all the good work by missing a penalty. 

Lanús, meanwhile, will be pretty pleased with their close-season business.

They reinvested €1.4 million of the €10 million received for Eduardo Salvio on Gonzalo Castillejos.

The former Central forward then grabbed a brace as the Granate came back from 2-0 down with 15 minutes to go, and won 3-2.

Elsewhere, Boca and River haven’t had long enough to sweep those pesky troubles under the carpet.

Boca bought a replacement midfield over the summer but perhaps should have focused on the defence.

“We are nervous when crosses come in,” said keeper Pato Abbondanzieri, controversially opting to speak for the entire defence and not just himself.

But he hadn’t stopped there.

“We lack personality,” he went on to say, after watching Boca throw away the lead twice against Argentinos.

New coach Abel Alves kept his analysis simple: “This side is more likely to scrape a win than play good football.”

Speaking of not playing attractive football, River “couldn’t string five passes together.” Leo Astrada’s words, not Argie Bargy’s.

Not to worry. Poor performances, missed goals and bad attitudes can all be forgotten as of tonight, when round 2 gets going.

On the Tube:

Showboater of the week: Sebastián Longo (Atlético Tucumán).

Skip to 1.22 here to see not just one glorious Cruyff turn and nutmeg rolled into one, but two. Rewind a few moments if you can’t resist Simeone and his ‘shirt’.

Goal of the weekend: Juan Román Riquelme (Boca) vs. Argentinos Juniors.

He cuts inside from the left wing, unleashing hell with his right boot from the corner of the area.

All the goals: Here, with some quite fantastic music

And finally: Cristian Fabbiani just won’t go away.

“If River had me, they would have won 3-0 at the weekend,” declared the out of work striker we discussed the other day.

“The fat players are the best ones. Ronaldo, Adriano…” And, by default, him too, and not a hint of irony in sight.

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