You’ve probably heard of it: tiki-taka football. It is a term that you often see in Spanish football, but you might also hear it at your local fourth division football club. But what exactly does this term mean and why is it so common in the football world?
Origin of the name
The term tiki taka was first used at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The Spanish team played offensive football with fast and short passes. Because the fast ticking sound of the passes could be heard, the Spanish commentator Andrés Montes called it ‘tiki taka football’. The Spanish team showed fast and eye-catching football, but was eliminated 1-3 in the eighth finals by losing finalist France. Yet from that moment on the term ‘tiki taka football’ was born.
Barcelona under Guardiola
In the period after 2006, Spanish football started to develop more and more into a true tiki taka culture with the ultimate example of Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona from 2008 to 2012. With players such as Iniesta, Xavi and of course Messi, Barcelona all had technically gifted players who were masters of performing tiki taka. Under Guardiola, Barcelona won the league title three times and the Champions League twice in the period 2008 to 2012. The origin of the attacking game of Barcelona is often linked back to the period of Barcelona under Johan Cruijff.
The tiki taka of the Spanish national team
The Spanish team also managed to achieve many successes with tiki taka in that period. The 2008 and 2012 European Championship was won and in 2010 Spain defeated the Dutch national team in the infamous World Cup final in South Africa. The discussion in Spain is often who really came up with tiki taka. The Spanish team or the Catalan FC Barcelona.
Teams playing tiki taka
Even now there are still teams that play tiki taka or a variant. The current Manchester City under Guardiola plays a kind of Premier League variant and Bayern Munich under Guardiola also played a different form of tiki taka. Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta also tries to apply the tactic to his team, but does not actually have the players with the right qualities at his disposal.
This also shows why not many teams play this football. The players must have the qualities and the whole team must participate for the tactic to work. Because if one player fails, the whole tactic often no longer works. One of Cruijff’s statements sums it up nicely: “playing simple football is the hardest thing there is” and the tiki-taka game is based on that. Keep passing and keep passing, you get the ball and you pass it on again. Until players start to run and the opponent has been lost.