Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The End of Tiki Taka

photo by twm1340via PhotoRee

Ed is back with some thoughts on the supposed "end" of Barcelona's reign

Journalists have been hitting the “Spain is Done and Germany Has Taken Over” narrative pretty hard the last few days after the all-German final which followed Bayern’s drubbing of Barca in the semis.  But is this really the end of tiki taka?  Or are these journalists just kind of hoping it’s the end?  Unfortunately, I think it’s more of the latter than the former.  Let’s face it, it’s not fun to watch your team play Barca and have the ball only about 20 minutes during a game if they’re lucky.

Here are the facts:

Barca, and not all of Spain, is pretty much the only team that plays the tiki taka.  Real Madrid doesn’t play it – and plays much more of the Bayern style with fast wingers and fast break football.  Ironically, in the second leg of the semi’s against Dortmund they reverted more to that style when they leaned on Luka Modric, and this was really the only time they had substantial success against the Germans.

As for Barca, they didn’t exactly have a bad season this year.  Their goal differential in La Liga was +80 (second only to Bayern’s) and they won the league.  Plus they came in fourth in the Champions League, after reaching the finals last year and dominating though ultimately losing against “Park The Bus” Chelsea, and after dominating Manchester United the year before at Wembley.  This with lots of injuries, a new coach, and the loss of the best player in the world for the semi-finals.  I think, therefore, it’s a bit early to pronounce them dead.

Bayern did, of course, hammer them in the semis.  I believe their tactics -- pressing high before falling off, and man marking the inside midfielders – will become the preferred tactic against the Barca and the tiki taka.  And I think it does have it’s merits (I don’t think, of course, it’s a new idea, as even this website has been calling for it for some time).  Plus, I think Bayern as currently constituted has an enormous quantity of talent, perhaps without a weakness in the roster.  Recall that this is a team that benches a guy that scored 41 goals last year.  And wait, even Bayern doesn’t seem very convinced that the tiki taka is done as they’ve hired it’s champion, Coach Pep, to take over the squad.

So let’s not put a stake in the heart of tiki taka yet.  What’s more surprising to me than this final is how few copy-cats there are to the style.  You rarely see it, though I suspect every pro aspires to it as much as the amateurs do.

On a final note, it seems that Robert Lewandoski is joining Mario Gotze at Bayern next season.  FOF is correct that this is making the Bundesliga look like the Bundeteama, with only one possible winner each year.  That makes for bad football.  But let’s not get too uppity about the BPL, because they really only have 3 teams that can win each year.  It might be more fun if soccer was more like the NFL, but hey, that’s never going to happen.

This is farlieonfootie for May 27.

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