Tiki-Taka Backlash Ignores the Values That Have Made Barcelona and Spain Great

Guillem Balague@@GuillemBalagueFeatured ColumnistSeptember 20, 2013

It's quite clear there is a backlash towards tiki-taka, the label that's been put on the style of play perpetrated by Barcelona and Spain. Fashions come and go, and of course this fashion was always destined to be doubted.

I should begin by saying I've never liked the term tiki-taka. Pep Guardiola hates it.

What's happening now is any team who tries to keep the ball are labelled with it. If a team tries to build from the back, it's tiki-taka. If they pass the ball a lot, it's tiki-taka. That analysis is wrong, because what Barcelona and Spain did or do goes far deeper than that. 

It's not just about what they do with the ball; it's what they do without it. It's about understanding positioning and space, and making intelligent use of every area of the pitch.


VILLARREAL, CASTELLON - APRIL 02:  Head Coach Josep Guardiola of Barcelona    give instructions to Andres Iniesta during the La Liga match between Villarreal and Barcelona at El Madrigal on April 2, 2011 in Villarreal, Spain.  (Photo by Manuel Queimadelos
Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Why anybody would criticise putting an onus on intelligence is beyond me. But they do.

Barcelona build from the back because it suits the players they have. Moreover, it creates space for players elsewhere. Their aim is to achieve superiority in every area of the pitch,


Here are the two lessons of tiki-taka as I see them.

1. The technical ability of your players is the most important thing. Marry that with intelligence and you have the materials you need to succeed.

2. Coaching then becomes everything. If you're coached the right way as a youth team player, with an emphasis on developing technique and your understanding of the game, you will be ready to take on lessons as you elevate to the senior ranks.

Consider this a defence, not of tiki-taka, but of the deep lessons learned through the success of the players in the Spain and Barcelona systems.

If you're criticising tiki-taka, you simply don't understand the lessons it can teach us.


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