The reason why Pep Guardiola is a great coach, and Barcelona one of the best teams in the world can be described with one word; tiki-taka.
That’s right, the tactic that took the whole football world by storm was born in Barcelona. Guardiola had a vision and the players to create a system that was unbeatable for a long time.
The tiki-taka strategy was all about possession. Even if it sounds simple, it’s not simple at all.
Guardiola’s team couldn’t do much without the ball. His goal was to have total control over the game. The risky part of the strategy is that the central defenders can be seen passing the ball far away from their own goal.
Just one mistake, and the opposite team could punish Barcelona with a counter attack. In order to solve this problem, Guardiola had a special requirement for a central defender.
It was all about control. If a defender couldn’t handle the pressure, he wasn’t going to be picked by Pep.
Both Pique and Mascherano have a solid ball control abilities, and that’s exactly why they’ve been playing for Barcelona for a long time.
Enrique kept the same criteria when it comes to signing defenders. Umtiti is also capable of finding a way to pass the ball under pressure.
Ronaldo is one of the hardest working football player in the world, and when he gives up on chasing your players, you know you’re doing it right:
The famous (or infamous if you’re a R.M fan) 5-0 game against Real Madrid was all about demonstrating the power of tiki-taka:
But R.M fans had their excuses. The coach was new, the new players needed time to adopt and similar.
But what about the Champions League final against Man. Utd? The 3-1 game was totally dominated by Barcelona, and Alex Ferguson had all season to analyse the team:
“They do mesmerise you with the way they pass it,” Ferguson said . “I expected us to do better, particularly after half-time, but it wasn’t to be. Great teams do go in cycles and they’re at the peak of the cycle they’re in at the moment.
“They’re the best in Europe, no question about that. In my time as a manager, I would say they’re the best team we’ve faced. Everyone acknowledges that and I accept that. It’s not easy when you’ve been well beaten like that to think another way. “
Just like Ferguson said, great teams do go in cycles. Mourinho had his sweet revenge with Inter, when he managed to stop Barcelona reaching one more Champions League final:
You could say they were unlucky, but that would be wrong. The whole Inter team was brilliant and they deserved the title.
That’s exactly why Barcelona brought a players like Suarez and Neymar, and why Messi is more often playing like a typical playmaker, than a false 9:
Two of the three goals above were scored from a typical counter attack. Sometimes you don’t need to complete 50+ passes to create a chance.
When you have players like Neymar and Suarez in the front, you can easily change your style from tiki-taka to counter attack.
Neymar is brilliant on the ball, he can easily dribble through defenders. On the other side, Suarez is one of the deadliest strikers in the world. He can find space, he can assist or he can simply nutmeg a defender.
That’s why Barcelona shouldn’t depend on tiki-taka only.