Buenos Aires Times

sports 2018: THE YEAR IN PREVIEW

Consulting the crystal ball: what lies ahead for football in 2018

Your guide to what lies ahead for Argentine football in 2018.

Tuesday 2 January, 2018
Foto:CEDOC.

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Another 12 months have come and gone in Argentine football, with more twists and turns than a drunk driver trying to avoid police transit controls on New Year’s Day. Only two things can be taken for granted: fans will never be bored, and never again will they be allowed back into the away end. But what does 2018 have in store for us? With a World Cup set to cause all manner of ruckus and plenty of local action to enjoy as well, there is no chance the year ahead will disappoint. Here is your indispensable (and perhaps not entirely accurate) preview of the coming 12 months...

January

Ricardo Caruso Lombardi upstages under-fire Jorge Sampaoli in the abusing an authority figure stakes by beating a parking attendant senseless with his wallet after getting a ticket in San Telmo. Film rights to the incident are sold to Ricardo Darín, who plans to play Caruso himself as an angrier ‘Bombita.’ Independiente fans are surprised by the announcement of Ariel Holan’s new assistant, Dr Stephen Hawking. The physics genius is drafted in to properly chart the vectors of Emanuel Gigliotti’s ambling charges into the penalty area.

February

The Primera División restarts with Carlos Tevez back at Boca, declaring that he would never leave. According to the striker, the past 12 months in Chinawere an extended dream sequence which ended when he awoke on January 1. Concerned by the thousands of lost subscriptions to paid football broadcasts over the summer, Fox and Turner reveal every new client will receive a bobble head doll of the coach of their choice as a free gift.

March

Tensions between Argentina’s national team and the press escalate after Sampaoli’s Christmas faux pas to such an extent that the Albiceleste’s latest friendly is played with the entire starting line-up pixelated in a bizarre protest. The only dissenting voice comes from Gonzalo Higuaín, concerned that the digitised squares “make him look chubby.” After 18 Primera coaches lost their jobs prior to Christmas, the sacking merry-goround picks up again with a further 10 departures early in 2018. The situation becomes so chronic that Gustavo Alfaro accidentally turns up at the wrong club on his first day, forgetting who hired him. He is sacked.

April

River find themselves delved in doping scandal once more when five of the first team test positive for opium following a Copa Libertadores clash in Peru. Marcelo Gallardo lays the blame on an elderly shaman recently hired by the club to administer painkilling injections. Following their near-escape during Argentina’s World Cup qualifying campaign, Noblex ups the ante by offering every person in the country a free DVD player if they go out in the first round.

May

Still no closer to his father’s immense inheritance, frozen due to the FIFAgate scandal, an impoverished Humberto Grondona is spotted driving a taxi around Buenos Aires to supplement his income. Almost immediately customers allege the controversial director has fixed his meter and pays out change with fake bills.

June

The World Cup is upon us, but not without another scandal. Critics once more call for Sampaoli’s head when a video emerges of the Argentina coach berating a waiter for serving him what he dubs “cold fucking shitty coffee.” The Albiceleste’s first game against Iceland is accompanied by a spate of jokes including Vikings, Ragnar Lothbrok and similar Scandinavian stereotypes. When informed that Iceland is in fact located outside Scandinavia, commentator Rodolfo De Paoli’s head explodes.

July

After a rocky start to the World Cup Argentina battle through to the final, where Germany lie in wait. Fans are pessimistic, but those fears are unfounded when a fortunate 97th minute goal that deflects off Messi’s backside hands the nation the title. The goal is immediately dubbed the “ass of God” and enters football history. President Mauricio Macri celebrates with a tweet jokingly commiserating with Germany for losing the final as well as two world wars. Angela Merkel uses her influence in the European Union and United Nations to break off all diplomatic ties with Argentina, in the process destroying the country’s economy and making it an international pariah.

August

Despite lifting the World Cup days earlier, Sampaoli is relieved of his duties as coach when a foul-mouthed Twitter direct message tirade against the community manager of his Internet provider is leaked. In a brave step the Primera División incorporates Video Assistant Referees for the first time, joining the likes of Germany and Italy in using the technology. In its debut, however, a number of curious VAR decisions leads to the AFA suspending its use for a week for poor performance.

September

Boca Juniors are shocked by the deadline day transfer of Carlos Tevez to the newly solvent Malaysian Mega League. As he boards the plane for Kuala Lumpur, Carlitos vows his loyalty to the Xeneize and promises to return “in a few months, more or less.” Edgardo Bauza is reappointed Argentina coach, on the grounds that unlike his predecessor (and successor) he could never be considered offensive.

October

Scandal breaks as it emerges that the VAR took millions of pesos in bribes to skew the perception of reality in favour of Argentina’s biggest clubs. Only in Argentina,  is the cry, as the cameras are burned in a paganistic ritual on top of a police car by Chacarita Juniors’ barra brava. In a novel way of beating the pay TV blackout, River Plate fans hire a zeppelin to fly over the Bombonera and watch for free the Superclásico.

November

When Ariel Holan resigns as Independiente coach, assistant Dr Hawking takes over and takes the monumentous step of dropping Gigliotti. “Am I the only one who can see he’s no good?” the former Cambridge University lecturer states. Two months into his Malaysia stay and tensions are already rising as Tevez misses a key Mega League game to play golf in Buenos Aires.

Speculation mounts over his imminent return to Boca.

December

Pope Francis shocks the world by promising to sell his soul to the devil in return for San Lorenzo lifting the title in a last-day decider against Racing Club. A Nicolás Blandi double seals the win, watched jubilantly by the now former pontiff who is later arrested for smashing up a police car during victory celebrations at the Obelisk.

At the AFA’s end-of-year dinner journalists take advantage of an inebriated Claudio Tapia to ask when away fans might return to football games. “Maybe next year, you never know,” the president slurred, before falling into a pothole and falling asleep in the middle of the street.

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