Tiki-Taka vs Total Football: Which is beautiful?

The Spanish National Team as well as Barcelona FC (both are practically the same, eh?) play a style of football known as Tiki-Taka. For dummies, this style can be referred in short words as “pass, pass and pass until the opponent cries for you to SHOOT”. With players like Xavi and Iniesta in the midfield, both FC Barcelona and Spain have mastered the art of Tiki-Taka. Given their victories in Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and endless number of domestic trophies for Barcelona, you have to agree that possession soccer has triumphed.

Let us take a case study. The Football World Cup 2010. Obviously, we know that Spain were victorious in that. Let us take a look at their results from the Knockout stage.

Round of 16 – Spain 1 – 0 Portugal

Quarter Finals – Spain 1 – 0 Paraguay

Semi Finals – Spain 1 – 0 Germany

Finals – Spain 1 – 0 Netherlands.

Four insipid 1-0 victories led to their triumph. So, does this mean they were playing boring football? Statistically speaking, yes. Their matches didn’t involve cliff hangers, penalty shootouts or fights. They were systematic, clinical and victorious.

Now, let us rewind back to the 1970s when the Dutch revolutionized the game by introducing Total Football. For dummies it can be referred as “don’t stand still, defenders score goals, strikers turn into sweepers”. Netherlands are being criticized today because they are not playing Total Football anymore.

But, truth be said, the method has been dropped since the 1980s. This is because the method is no longer physically possible. The Dutch wandered the field in the 1970s from defense to offense not because of their skill. It was because the opponent’s defense let them do it knowing that they will lose all their energy if they keep on chasing.

Take a look at the 1974 World Cup Finals between Netherlands and West Germany. The Dutch began passing, Cruyff got the ball, made a sprint and won a penalty even before a single German players got his legs on the ball. It was an insult to the German National Team.


Of course, Total Football is interesting to watch. But then again, there are people claiming that Total Football was invented because of the lack of tactics and some even claim it as “Hippie Football”.

So, this brings us back to our original question. Tiki– Taka or Total Football, which is beautiful?

Calling Spain’s Tiki– Taka boring because they don’t score more goals is basically misunderstanding Football. If playing 90 minutes of uncompromising football which involves high quality, pin point passing with intense pressure is boring, then yes, Spain are boring. Seeing that much coherence and collectivity in a National team is a rare sight that you only get to see from the best league sides. The Spanish team contains players like Villa, Xavi and Iniesta who are not physically strong. Hence, they took a decision around 2007 to start playing a style of football that is now days called “Tiki– Taka”.

The Dutch in the 1970s played Total Football because they were physically strong to do that. Time and Pressure has magnified so much in the present day game that no one can actually play Total Football anymore. In Total Football, players changed positions to confuse opponents, now in Tiki– Taka, the ball does all the work. Players don’t have to move anymore.

In short words, Total Football was revolutionary whereas Tiki– Taka is evolutionary. They say that beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. One might not agree with the definition of beauty. It is all about perfectness isn’t it? Spain are perfect. A less perfect Spain could have made the World Cup finals a bit more interesting. But, is it possible for a team to play like Spain? No, quite blatantly no!

Watch this video and JUST ADMIRE.


Edited by Staff Editor