It's time for the Shampions League!

It's the week everyone’s been waiting for. Glitzy, glamorous and guaranteeing gazillions of Euros, the world’s top club championship got going.

A mouth-watering Inter-Barcelona in week one, Ronaldo and Kaká kick-starting the Galácticos II dream, Rooney kicking the bench...

Over in Argentina, the start of the Champions League has been given something of a boost after a change of rights-holders, so for the past four months or so we’ve been regularly informed that something apparently called the Ssshampions League will be on a different channel.

For those used to the more modest South American competitions, budgets, players and quality of football, this is a brave new world of club football, and you can tell from the commentators’ puppyish excitement.

“Just look at the replays! How many cameras have they got out there?! Look at how expensive Real Madrid’s players are!! I can’t believe how much they spent this summer. Still, amigo, this is Europe. Oh, and get this. González Blanco scored his... what?

"Oh, yeah, sorry. Raúl scored his 224th Liga goal in Spain against Depor and is now two behind fourth-placed César Rodríguez on the all-time top scorers' list. Athletic Club Bilbao legend Telmo Zarra is first on 251.”

You’ve got to love those UEFA press packs.

For all the star names, the Ssshampions League does have one problem over in Argentina.

To watch a game you are going to have to invoke a non-existent union rule about football belonging to The People and stage a mass walkout at half past three to catch the game down the local bar.

Calling strike action is something of an Argentine speciality, but doing so in the name of the early rounds of the Ssshampions League would be a little excessive.

The other potential problem is the prospect of Messi, Agüero and Mascherano and company scoring goals, making tackles, beating players, completing four-yard passes, looking happy, knowing what they are doing and generally going about their business in an orderly fashion.

The sight of that, in comparison to what happened with the national team a few days ago, could be too much for some to handle in these trying economic times, especially when they see what’s on TV when they do actually get to finish work.

The Copa Sudamericana.

It’s not the Ssssshampions League. It’s not even the South American Ssssssshampions League – that’s the Libertadores.

The Sudamericana is the equivalent of the Europa Cup or whatever it's called. It couldn't be further removed from the Sssssssshampions League.

Representing Argentina in this year’s Sudamericana are the previous season’s overall top four.

‘Overall’ because, like in other Latin American countries, Argentina have two seasons for the European one.

Don't think 2009/10, think Apertura ’09 and Clausura ’10.

Argentina has six places in the Sudamericana. Four go to the teams who would have finished 1st to 4th if they were to play a normal season like everyone else.

And because Argentina is something of a big hitter on the continent, there are also two special invitee berths.

These are for any two teams in the country, any at all, who have the right combination of ‘Juniors,’ ‘Boca,’ ‘Plate’ and ‘River’ in the their name.

So it is that Lanús, Vélez, San Lorenzo and Tigre, along with the fortunately-named River Plate and Boca Juniors, are representing the Albiceleste.

The six are paired up in the first stage, though, meaning that only three will make it to the last 16.

Orchestrated? Staged?

There’s more to the farce than meets the eye. The two South American continental tournaments do not run simultaneously.

The Sudamericana fills up the first half of the season, the Libertadores the second.

Given that qualification for the Libertadores, the real tournament, is reliant on the performance in the league – the one played at the same time as the Sudamericana - it should be no surprise that most clubs prioritise the former and put out a load of youngsters for the latter.

Got all that?

So next time you’re grumbling about a pointless group game in the Ssssssssshampions League, just remember one thing. It could be worse.

It could be the Sudamericana.

NEW! The latest results from ArgentinaNEW! Upcoming fixtures in Argentina

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