Saudi Arabia and the oddly-placed tattoo

Hola, y benvenido to the first ever blog for Four Four Two solely dedicated to everything related to Argentine football, directly from, a frankly sweltering, Buenos Aires. One thing's for sure, we're never going to be stuck for news.

They say football in Argentina is a religion, in fact it is much more important than that. It seeps into everyday life in a way I have never seen following the game around the world. In how many other countries can think of, where everyone knows which team every politician supports - and votes accordingly? (Is it a surprise the chairman of Boca has just become the mayor of the city?).

Hell I even know which team my elderly lady next door neighbour supports (River Plate – but she is a bit posh). It’s guaranteed to be the first subject that comes up in conversations. And now more than ever, there is a lot to talk about.

To look at football in Argentina you have to see it from three main angles: the clubs and players, the barra bravas (powerful hooligan, sorry, fan groups) and el Diez, el Dios – Diego Maradona, who every time he opens his mouth, plays a game or farts he is on the front page.

Our first God Watch is below – and if you doubted his deity status, check out the Church of Maradona.

The Argentine season is split up into two halves: illogically, but this is Argentina, el apertura (the opening) is played between July and December while la clausura (the closing) between February and June.

We are just about to head into the clausura. I'm probably not exaggerating when I say the apertura was probably one of the most exciting seasons, well, ever. I will go into more details in another post, but the season was dominated, for the first time, by the smaller clubs, no paying out on Boca before the season has even begun.

Club Atlético Lanús (see www.clublanus.com for a particularly proud slide show – and a very excited presenter) won the title for the first time in their history. And then, to confound all expectation, the second place went to the tiny Club Atlético Tigre playing their first season in the Primera since 1980, and third place went to Banfield another small club from the southern suburbs.

No River Plate, no Boca Juniors, no San Lorenzo and no Independiente. But it was also a season marked by violence, as they all are, particularly the murder of a River Plate Los Borrachos del Tablon (the Drunks of the Terrace) barra brava (check them out on YouTube), allegedly killed because of in fighting to fill a power vacuum (and again here). And yes they do all support the same team.

All of these subjects will be looked at over the coming months. We'll start with a run down over the main teams, players and barra brava stories while we are in the off season and they are all fannying playing beach football and the odd friendly, and of course God Watch, including, in the next blog, a mini diplomatic crisis he caused last week. But just in case we forgot why Diego matters, watch this.

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