In the space of just seven days in Brazil, the patient, possession-oriented style of play that has dominated this sport for the last six years has given way to a breakneck brand of soccer that looks like it has been outfitted with a jet engine. The Tiki Taka style of play had been influenced and used to a great effect by a variety of mangers like Pep Guardiola, Vincent del Bosque and Luis Aragones among others but the past year witnessed teams overcoming this style of play with ease. The key to it as described by legendary Spanish striker Raul Gonzalez was closing down spaces in the final third and attacking swiftly and effectively on the counter as was displayed by Chile in a match which effectively signaled the end of a style which had become synonymous with Spain and Barcelona in recent years.
However that doesn’t mean that possession based football was always beatable. At its prime in 2010 under Pep Guardiola, it took a Jose Mourinho managed Internazionale the help of weather conditions to stop a seemingly unstoppable team which had won the Champions League crown the previous year and would then win it again the following year in 2011. And the Spanish team dominated by the same Barcelona stars easily won the Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012 without any major trouble except for being slow starters maybe in the WC which can’t really be blamed on them especially given that they performed impeccably after that.
Still every success story has it’s end and there were signs of a reordering in the international game last year, when Brazil outmuscled Spain 3-0 in a fast and frenetic Confederations Cup final. The end of the Spain dominated football era spells a change in tide.But more than that, it represents merely the latest shift in the fundamental struggle between pace and power that has come to define modern soccer.For many observers, this injection of speed has been a long time coming. Even as Spain drew olés from fans world-wide for their technical wizardry, there was a sense that their tiki-taka, square-ball approach had gotten dull.
As the technical gap between Spain and everyone else has diminished, attributes like speed, acceleration and brute strength have come to the fore. The introduction of Diego Costa surely displays Spain’s eagerness to adapt and succeed. But one player can’t be enough and for Spain to reach the higher echelons of footballing geniuses again their style of play will need to change according to the needs of the game.