The dawn on the “Tiki-Taka Era” in football
concurred with Xavi winning the best player
award in Euro 2008. And just when the
philosophy that took over the world of
football saw its great fall, The Spanish
Maestro was inches away from moving to
participate in Qatar Stars league.
I don’t think so ..
Guardiola : The Revolution
It’s so easy for anybody to deduce that Guardiola “unleashed
the monster within Barcelona”. When he took the lead of the
Blaugrana, their legendary run started. They won 14 trophies
in 4 years , including the historic 6-trophy season, which made
them one of the best teams in the beautiful game’s history, the
best ever for many.However, I’ll dare to say that this deduction,
with all respect to Pep as a coach, is WRONG. The man behind
the Tiki-Taka dominance , in my opinion, was none other than
the late great Luis Aragones who ended Spain’s 44-year trophy
drought. So, I have to admit that my title was wrong.
It should’ve been :
Aragones : The Revolution
In 2008, Aragones made many changes that led to
the era of Spain dominance in both club and national
football. One of which was bringing the Tiki-Taka style,
which Pep used in a more “concentrated ” way, to life.
The most important of all his “magic touches” was
freeing Xavi from a lot of his defensive duties and
almost any other limitation for his movement which
made him the real leader and controller on the pitch.
That also brought him close to his “football twin”
Andres Iniesta, both of them were free players to a
good extent under Aragones ( and here comes the
widely neglected huge significance of Busquets).
They provided the characteristic possession and
smoothness in spreading the ball and were widely
considered as oneof the best football duos ever.
From there, Xavi emerged as a “super player“.
People started saying things like ” He was born to
play that role” , ” He is the best maestro the game
has ever known”. And that’s why you’ll see Xavi
showing appreciation to Aragones more than any
other. He will always say that he owes him all his
achievements in pretty much the same way
Ronaldo talks about Sir Alex Ferguson.
” Luis made me feel important when my self-esteem was at a moment of crisis. He gave me full command of the team, something I didn’t even have at Barca. “You’re in command here,” he told me, “and let them criticise me.” He decided to restore my confidence on the pitch. If I was named the best player of the Eurocopa, it was because of him, even though he always denied it. “
-Xavi on Aragones
I personally think that you can know a player significance
to a certain team or style by comparing their main
abilities by the team needs or requirements.
Counter-Attacking , for example, requires :
– Fast transition from defensive to attacking state
– High intelligence in dealing with spaces and off-ball movement
– Being quick in taking decision and converting the ball into the net
Reading this, your brain will go to one player : C.Ronaldo.
That’s why the teams for whom the Portuguese star play
successfully depend on direct play and counter-attacking.
Now let’s take a look at Tiki-Taka requirements :
– Excellent vision and high precision in passing.
– Excellent first touch passing and controlling.
– High ability in retaining the ball under pressure.
– High mobility to open spaces.
Obviously enough, this is the Spanish maestro. That means
Xavi “reflects” the Tiki-Taka which shows his maximal importance
in executing this style with no need for any explanation.
I stated in my previous article that there are three roles
in the world of football that are highly important :
The workhorse, the mastermind and the lethal finisher.
And the handful of players who play two of these rules are
extremely Important. Xavi belongs to this group. “The
mastermind” part of it is obvious and never debatable.
What many people may not notice is his “workhorse” role.
He is everywhere you need him to open spaces and keep
the flow of the play. According to UEFA and FIFA, Xavi was
surpassing all his teammates in the vast majority of matches
when it comes to the distance he covered during the match.
Here is a video that shows the way Xavi moves and open spaces :
“Very important, more so than the coach”
– Del Bosque on Xavi
What Exactly Happened ?!
Why did Tiki-Taka fall then ??
Did Xavi lose his vision and precision ??
What Xavi , and Tiki-Taka, lost was his high mobilty and
smooth continuous movement because of aging obviously.
In other words, the team’s dynamo lost a considerable
amount of its power. Consequently too, the team ability
to break opponents declined unprecedentedly because
the slower you play the easier to read you are. This also
gives opponents to recover order before you break them.
Barcelona no longer has the Xavi that ran nearly
12 Kms in 2011 UCL final againt Manchester despite
the team being “comfortable” for almost 20 minutes.
Spain no longer has the Xavi that ran an astonishing
15 Kms in the WC2010 final against Holland.
And as a result :
Barcelona is no longer 2011 Barcelona ,
Spain is no longer 2010 Spain.
Important Note :
Surely this article is not to deny other reasons
such as opponents knowing the style’s
strengths and weaknesses.
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