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Is Tiki Taka the Answer?

Does Barça need to go back to the basics?

Barcelona Training Session and Press Conference Photo by Chris Brunskill/Getty Images


Originally meant to describe meaningless passing, the term has evolved into something greater today - a philosophy; a radical idea that took the world by storm, and left everything in it's path to the dust.

Born from the simple seeds of total-football, tiki-taka was revolutioned by Pep Guardiola and his vision of playing one-touch football at Barça; a vision where the ball was precious. The players would strive for the ball, and when they didn't have it, they would methodically press the opposition like a pack of wolves, before regaining it. The passing was crisp with short triangles, and each pass was a lesson in how to caress the ball, and make it do your bidding.

His players were like soldiers, who waited for their tactically astute commander, to deploy strategies that worked within the confines of their carefully calculated system, yet allowed them to pick their opponents apart with the precision of a surgeon. With some of the world's best players in the squad, Barça accumulated trophies like clockwork, as the world stood still.

Nothing lasts forever.

Desperate to stop the Catalan juggernaut, Mourinho put ten men in the box, defending with their everything, waiting to catch a break; Bus parking, they called it. And it worked.

Teams facing the Blaugrana resorted to parking the bus in their own box as a counter to Barça's intricate passing triangles. There were days when it looked like sooner or later, the opposition's defence would give in. On other days, everyone knew this was a stalemate, unless someone pulled off something ridiculously special; that someone was usually Messi.

Messidependencia settled in and it seemed like Barça were lost without the little magician's tricks. Moves for Neymar and Luis Suarez followed to lighten the burden on the Argentine's shoulders, along with multiple changes in the coaching staff over the following two years.

After reviving an ailing Celta Vigo side, club legend Luis Enrique was asked to take the wheel, and steer the Barça-boat back to trophy winning ways, and despite his pragmatic approach, the Asturian did just that; While the former system relied heavily on fullbacks providing width in the final third through overlaps, the current system employed the intriguing vertical stretch; the defence, midfield and offence would move closer or farther from each other, depending on how the opposition was playing. This enabled them, to lure the opposition into a false sense of security, as they wandered into space, allowing Barça to exploit the created space through overturns and quick transitions that lead to lightning fast counter-attacks.

While there were various other tweaks to the style of play, like a newfound efficency in set-pieces and a better defensive structure to accompany the triumvirate upfront, Barça continued to play attractive football, and managed to win a massive number of trophies in Enrique's short stint as a manager.

Nothing lasts forever.

No system is bulletproof, and this season, teams seem to have figured out how to counter Luis Enrique's system. Almost every team with a sensible coach has played a high defensive line against Barça and with a depleted midfield, Barca has failed to retaliate against the aggressive pressing that has followed.

Gone are the days, when Barça played with grace and finesse - a grittier side now represents the Blaugrana. Where once Barça were dominating matches with scintillating performances, they now look disjointed, like Frankenstein's monster; a team that lacks cohesion and form. While some fans complain about the lack of form from midfield linchpin Sergio Busquets, others have blamed the lack of evolution in the system.

There are various solutions to a problem and while there could be a new system that betters the existing one, there could be a wiser answer to this entire episode. And that answer could be one, that the world has seen before.

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