Barcelona and Bayern Munich put one foot in the next round of the Champions League with respective 2-0 away wins at Manchester City and Arsenal.
Both saw the home side reduced to ten-men, with Martin Demichelis and Wojciech Szczesny seeing red for the English teams.
What followed next were two lessons in tika-taka football, and how demoralising yet dominating possession-orientated football can be. The subsequent dominance of both Bayern and Barca made for a sometimes enthralling yet often drab games of football.
This begs the question, is the tika-taka system total football or an enemy of the sport's fluidity?
Pep Guardiola introduced it during his time at Barcelona, and has installed the same style of play into a Bayern side that surged to a treble last season.
For both sides it has made them formidable, caressing the ball marvellously around the field of play with impeccable patience, whilst also making it difficult for opponents by pressing whenever possession is surrendered.
In Spain, the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets thrived in the system. With Lionel Messi as a spearhead, they formed possibly the greatest club side football has ever seen.
The constant assault and persistent probing yields wonders the majority of the time. Even Top teams, as Manchester City found out, who adopt the same system do not do it with such authority and class as Guardiola’s current and former side.
It is beautiful to watch at times, and seeing goals is nearly guaranteed. Bayern have scored a staggering 57 goals in 21 matches in the Bundesliga this campaign, whilst Barcelona held the record of most goals scored in a Spanish league season before Real Madrid scored 121 goals in 2011-2012 to break their record.
Yet the criticism is that without a fantastic player occupying the ‘number 9’ role at the top of the pitch it can be lacklustre to watch.
At the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday evening, Mario Mandzukic occupied the role.
Unsurprisingly he does not possess the same brilliance as Messi, who Guardiola moulded to make the role his own. He was poor and was substituted for Thomas Muller with 25 minutes remaining.
Bayern were dominant but without a prolific striker the system appeared boring. Rafinha and Arjen Robben were dangerous on the wings, but they lacked ruthlessness in the final third.
Perhaps with Robert Lewandoski in the side next season, such criticisms will not be made.
For Barcelona, against ten-men City, the system worked far better. Messi was not at his marvellous best, but his darting runs and acceleration of pace gave the Blues’ defence headaches that Mandzukic did not.
Tika-taka is a massive part of today’s game.
It will continue to split opinion as more sides look to emulate those at the summit of the sport.
Write for GiveMeSport! Sign-up to the GMS Writing Academy here: https://gms.to/1a2u3KU
DISCLAIMER: This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.