Tiki-Taka – the kings of world football are dead!
So, as the obituaries are polished off for Spain, it’s worth reflecting on their ignominious fall from grace in this year’s World Cup.
To be honest, the writing had seemed to be on the wall for this team since last year’s Confederations Cup when they were steamrolled by Brazil. Having seen Brazil so far in this tournament, that 3-0 battering looks even worse.
Spain’s era of dominance has been characterised by complete control, short passing and Xavi Hernandez touching the ball every three seconds. There’s been none of that this year.
In fact, the game has completely bypassed those midfielders who’ve run the show for so long. Xavi was dropped. Iniesta was completely ineffective. Silva, so brilliant for Manchester City, barely had a purposeful kick. As for Xabi Alonso, he was absolutely dreadful.
I remember watching Xavi as a 21 year old strut his youthful stuff at Ewood Park in a pre-season friendly for Barcelona. I was gutted that Rivaldo wasn’t playing but it was clear from this relative unknown’s performance that here was a star. He just ran everything, even scoring a penalty.
The plaudits have been many for Spain’s revolutionary football. High energy, relentless pressing, pass pass pass. Why score four when you can win with one? They didn’t concede goals because they didn’t concede possession. Victory by strangulation.
Now though, much like Barcelona, they’ve been found out. The players are older and can’t press as quickly. In fact, as shown by Chile, they can’t handle pressure being put on them. And the lack of a top class striker is now a glaring weakness rather than an opportunity to be creative with “false nines” and the like.
Chelsea target Diego Costa has had a terrible World Cup. I know he’s been injured recently but to me, he comes across as a lumbering bully with a heavy touch and a lack of killer instinct. He’s had an incredible season at Atletico, granted, by firing them to an unbelievable La Liga title, but before that he was an understudy and often out on loan. £30m? Give me a break.
So what now? Who will step up to take Spain’s crown?
I for one hope it’s the team who’ve been the most fun to watch in the first round of matches…no, not England. Not even Holland…