Is Tiki Taka dead?

ARDA ALAN IŞIK
ISTANBUL
Published 26.06.2015 21:13

After Barcelona's downward form following Josep Guardiola's departure and Spain's disastrous World Cup journey, a charming question lay in the minds of "counter-revolutionary" forces in football: Has neo-Total Football come to its end? Of course, this question has a secret and invalid premise, that is, there is an alternative way of football that is as systematic as neo-Total Football. Some people like to call what is opposed to neo-Total Football "pure" football, given its direct approach. However, there is a much more suitable name for the all football practice before neo-Total Football: chaotic football.

Former Real Madrid and current Bayern Munich midfielder Xabi Alonso once said: "We [Real Madrid] play the pure version of football. We do not make 40 passes to score a goal, we directly do it." Having said that, it is ironic to see Alonso so enthusiastically playing the football that he decried in the past. Nevertheless, what Alonso and most people in football miss is that Barcelona's style is just one of the many ways to implement principles of neo-Total Football. For instance, last year Guardiola's Bayern Munich was as systematic and organized as 2011's Barcelona, but they had a different method of finding the opportunities.

The main idea beneath neo-Total Football is bringing football into rational territory. The game is played with the mind, not the foot, because 11 human beings' involvement in a single project and their cooperation requires a superior mind. In a mathematical perspective, given the "roundness" of the ball, we can say there is an unlimited number of variables and possibilities on the pitch. Thus, if these variables and possibilities are allowed to flow in an uncontrolled manner, there is no way to predict anything concrete about the game. Unfortunately, at this point most coaches rely on the power of their individual variables. Yes, Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are impressive variables that can change the course of the game, but you need to see the whole picture, and then take its elements one at a time.

Given these facts, it is much more understandable why the football before neo-Total Football, even its prototype Total Football, had defensive priorities. Seeing as no team could focus on offense more than defense if it does not have a complete and self-sufficient strategy, it is clear why chaotic football is always related to defensive football. If you rely on chaos and the talented feet that can make use of that chaos, you will at least want to have a secure penalty box. However, this style of football does not even need a coach or a superior mind. All you have to do is build strict defensive blocks and use fast, talented and expensive players for counter attacks. That is of course the lazy way of playing football and unfortunately most players, coaches and executives prefer that, because it requires much less organization and responsibility than neo-Total Football. Furthermore, that is why an Arsene Wenger is always more precious than a Jose Mourinho for me, because he tries to build something, not just consume and make use of the situation.

However, you might say, like Mourinho, that pure football is actually direct, individualistic and chaotic, but then let me ask you: why do we play this game with 11 players and with a superior mind? This is just the wrong way to interpret the roots of football. Like the economy, the roots of football are mostly manipulated. Before capitalism, there was communal life, no barter and just like that before this industrial football madness there were 11 people who enjoyed playing together with harmony, not superstars with waxed hair and gigantic egos. Thus, neo-Total Football bring it back to the true soul of the game. Unlike the popular argument that says too much organization will make football mechanic, with neo-Total Football players feel much more confident and execute their talents more bravely, because anxiety is derived from not knowing what to do and neo-Total Football eliminates it.

Finally, neo-Total Football is not simply a way to find opportunities but a whole paradigm to shape a football team. I do not know about you, but I'm fed up with watching immoral, snobbish and frantic coaches and players who do not even deliver bearable football. The only way to revive the true soul of the game is to bring the collective and creative power of 11 players and a superior mind. If you do not like the name, just change it, name it Wengerian or Cruyffian football, but you cannot ignore the main idea anymore.

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