Spain have dominated the international stage in recent years, brushing aside every nation on their way to win both the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championships in 2008 and 2012.
Their tiki-taka philosophy appeared to transform football with their short, slick possession game. The side had left the world in awe at times but Spain's performance during this year's World Cup is the final piece of evidence to suggest that this philosophy in very much out of fashion.
During the last two International tournaments we saw the likes of Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, David Silla and David Villa play for Spain. Their short diminutive figures had perfect technical ability. Their intricate passing helped destroy teams and their markers chased shadows for 90 minutes. Some lauded the style of play, some called it sterile. But one thing was for sure, it was effective and brought success for club and country. That was until now.
There is no doubting the quality of the Spanish players but their insistence to pass, pass, pass has become boring and teams have adapted to defend against it. Wednesday night saw Chile, a hard-working side who harried and pressed Spain for 90 minutes, sweep them aside with relative ease. Calling Chile a hard-working side may be doing them a disservice as they're also full of quality, but they beat Spain due to the effort they put it and the pace on the break.
Spain's defeat to Netherlands epitomised how a fast counter-attacking side with quality can be the downfall for tiki-taka. Spain had the vast majority of possession but Netherlands were ruthless in the way they countered with pace and a finishing product which saw them hand out a 5-1 mauling.
But this wasn't the first example we've seen of how pace in attack can defeat a side playing 'pretty football'. Carlo Ancelotti's Real Madrid brushed aside Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich this season beating them 5-0 on aggregate in the Champions League semi-finals.
Again, it was Bayern Munich with all the possession boasting 63% of it at the Bernabeu during the first leg. But the pace of Angel Di Maria, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale on the break tore Munich to shreds.
A year earlier in the same competition a Bayern Munich side playing fast counter-attacking football thrashed the tiki-taka style of Barcelona. The Spanish side is home to tiki-taka but they lost over the two legs by a 7-0 aggregate score. It was the start of the end for tiki-taka.
These teams have adapted to deal with the tiki-taka style of play by soaking up pressure by relying on their defensive organisation. Then, when the opposition do eventually lose possession, they counter-attack with speed and effectiveness taking more risks when they have the ball.
It could be argued that this isn't simply the end of the tiki-taka philosophy but the players playing are too old to carry it out. Xavi is now is now 34 and Iniesta is now 30. They have been the lynchpins for Barcelona and Spain in conducting this style of play. But if they aren't ticking, the philosophy breaks down with the failure to dictate the tempo and keep the ball adequately.
The new philosophy seems to be a high-pressing, hard-working and fast counter attacking style. It certainly has had the beating of the tiki-taka football over the past few seasons and without a doubt is more entertaining than possession football.
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