Your (tongue-firmly-in-cheek) guide to what lies ahead for Argentine football in 2019.
If someone had forecast just 12 short months ago that River Plate and Boca Juniors would be lining up in a Copa Libertadores final played in Madrid, that individual would rightly have been locked up in a mental institution for the rest of his living days. But he would have been left with the last maniacal laugh safely confined inside a straitjacket: it just goes to show that Argentine football delights in making the impossible depressingly possible.
Great things can therefore be expected, nay demanded, from 2019. With local and international football, the promise of even more chaos and, to top it all, elections which are likely to prove more bitter than ever, the only thing we can guarantee is that there will not be a dull moment – and that, most likely, away fans will not return.
Without further ado, then, here is the preview/review of the football year that is yet to be...
By executive order, Mauricio Macri makes any references to December’s Copa Libertadores final illegal, punishable with five years imprisonment.
Racing’s bid to consolidate their lead at the Superliga summit is damaged when key first-teamers Lucas Orbán and Pol Fernández are injured in a freak quadbike accident just outside Mar del Plata. La Academia nevertheless beat Aldosivi thanks to a last-minute goal to go seven points clear.
Tension and uncertainty continues over whether Lionel Messi will return to the national team. Supporters take a photo of young Thiago in an Argentina shirt as incontrovertible proof that a comeback is imminent.
River Plate continue to milk celebrations of the Libertadores final, hiring a Pity Martínez impersonator to run the ball into an empty Monumental net 27 times ahead of their clash against Racing.
The Copa Libertadores suffers its first scandal of 2019 when it emerges that San Lorenzo’s entire team were suspended for the Cuervo’s clash against Junior. CONMEBOL seems puzzled by the oversight, and issues San Lorenzo a stern warning not to do it again.
In a touching thank you to Edgardo Bauza, a group of Rosario Central fans splash out to officially name one of Easter Island’s moai after the legendary coach. The inauguration ceremony goes pear-shaped when, confused by the uncanny resemblance, local authorities attempt to prevent Bauza from leaving the island.
Now 15 points ahead in Superliga, Racing’s squad is reduced to the bare minimum when no less than 10 players go missing on a sightseeing tour in Iguazú falls. Eduardo Coudet’s ragtag side lose their next three games, increasing championship jitters.
In another mysterious disappearance, the Superliga discovers that Patronato had failed to appear for a single game in 2019, without anyone – opponents, fans, authorities – noticing their absence.
Huracán make a criminal complaint against Boca Juniors, who stand accused of stealing not just the Parque Patricios club’s coach and players but also thousands of dollars in sporting equipment and the away stand of the Estadio Tomás Adolfo Ducó. Decked in a Huracán windbreaker, Daniel Angelici assures he has no idea what the Globo are talking about.
Open Net, the feature-length film based on Pity Martínez’s Libertadores goal and bankrolled by River Plate, opens nationwide in cinemas. Early reviews suggest an Oscar may be in store.
A depleted Racing team made up entirely of eight-year-old infant trainees miraculously beats Defensa y Justicia to take the title. Coach Eduardo Coudet, inadvertently hypnotised to believe he is a boa constrictor, celebrates by slithering across the dressing room floor and biting Diego Milito.
A new scandal for CONMEBOL as video footage proves that Palmeiras prevailed in one of their group stage matches with the help of a trained circus bear playing at centre-forward. The Brazilians are punished with a 10-point penalty that sends them out of the competition.
As Argentina gear up for the Copa América final, TyC Sports releases a list of Messi’s demands for having returned to the Albiceleste. Among the 70-page document are requests for a personal oxygen chamber, a lifetime’s supply of figs and a guarantee that Jorge Sampaoli will be stripped of his Argentine citizenry. Despite Messi’s presence, Argentina go down narrowly in the final to underdogs Bolivia after a four-hour penalty shoot-out. Rumours that Leo will retire again surface.
Following a disappointing start to the year, Boca sack coach Gustavo Alfaro, replacing him with Huracán’s Antonio Mohamed. El Turco leaves the Globo in the middle of their first 2018-19 league game, leaving the team disorientated and directionless as they fall to a 3-1 defeat to Boca.
After almost six months of captivity Edgardo Bauza finally manages to convince Easter Island authorities that he is human and not a stone monolith, and is released back to Central.
The Superclásico suffers a false start when neither River nor Boca are given clearance to host the fixture. After much wrangling the teams eventually take the pitch in New Zealand, Boca running out 2-0 winners before a bemused Auckland audience.
Ariel Holan’s latest technological innovation goes awry when robots the Independiente coach designed to act as the opposition turn against their human masters.
San Lorenzo President Matías Lammens is voted the next mayor of Buenos Aires. Lammens celebrates by riding through Boedo on top of a bulldozer and destroying the famous Carrefour supermarket.
River and Boca fight through to yet another Copa Libertadores final. An entire continent sighs and mutters ‘for God’s sake, not this again.’
Original Libertadores final venue Santiago refuses to host the two great Buenos Aires rivals, as does every major football city on the planet. Elon Musk steps in to save the day with the proposal of playing the final on Mars, where he has prepared a special purpose-built stadium.
The rockets shuttling Boca and River to the red planet fail, leaving the two teams doomed to float in the freezing voids of outer space for the rest of eternity. The Copa is awarded to Brazilian side Gremio, who were the first to ask for it once NASA had confirmed the disaster.
Open Net, having now taken on further poignancy, is now runaway bookmakers’ favourite to sweep the board at the Oscars. In its end of year message the AFA expresses its hope that 2020 will finally be the year that away fans return to stadiums.