Spain, down and OUT

It was not as if we couldn't see it coming but probably most people were praying too hard for Spain to qualify. Tiki-taka's effect is not working like how it used to be. We saw it when Barcelona lost to Bayern. When Bayern lost in the Champions League under Pep. And now in the World Cup, Spain's defeat was obvious. Tiki-taka alone is not working.

Down and out

While playing the ball on the ground with such fluid passing could be great, it's boring when passing is all that there is in the game. 

Louis Van Gaal's mastermind victory over Spain was beautiful. The goal that Van Persie scored was beautiful. The way Robben run through the defenders was brilliant. That is beautiful football.

Against Chile, Spain appear reluctant to change, or maybe they don't know how to play it another way anymore now that they are so used to tiki-taka. And Chile took full advantage of that. They were good on the attack, organized and they deserved to win. 2-0 against Spain in the World Cup. That's a great achievement, given that they have not beaten Spain in their last 10 games before this.


It's difficult to say what went wrong besides tiki-taka being too predictable and the lack of creativity in it. But Spain still has a squad that boast of world class forwards, midfielders, defenders and what went wrong?


After a horror start, Spain knew that this fixture could represent the end of the tournament for them. Having analysed what went wrong against the Dutch, manager Vicente del Bosque decided to introduce two changes to the starting lineup, replacing a hesitant Gerard Pique with Bayern's Javi Martinez, and introducing Pedro Rodriguez in the place of his Barcelona teammate Xavi Hernandez. The reshaped team started in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Andres Iniesta on the left, David Silva in the middle and Pedro on the right wing, all three playing behind Diego Costa, who retained his starting spot.

But it was obvious that more change is required. The first chance that Chile got was due to some weak-footed defensive midfield pair, Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets. Then, a poor pass from Alonso was pounced upon and Eduardo Vargas fooled Iker Casillas to score.

It was obvious that Casillas is no longer the Saint he used to be. A misplaced of trust. Diego Costa's costly missed opportunity is another that will haunt Spain.

A late introduction of Koke proved to be too late for Spain. Then, Busquets for some reason managed to miss an opportunity when he was unmarked at the far post. All he had to do was to direct his touch towards the goal to score, but missed the easiest chance imaginable. After that, the mentally fragile Spain collapsed. 

The fact that Chelsea's Fernando Torres, a player who has struggled for form all season, finished the match leading his team's forward line adds another significant point to Del Bosque's misplaced loyalty. Torres' case has become an iconic example. In order to give the forward a final run to a World Cup title, Del Bosque took a player well past his prime and left out other younger, sharper strikers that could have added the spice up front this team so sorely lacked. As in many other positions, the options were there.

TIKI-TAKA undone

As mentioned earlier, it's pretty obvious that teams are ready and familiar with tiki-taka. They know how to deal with it. 

Spain's tiki-taka is boring. Spain's precise style of passing football has sometimes been frustrating, but it has changed football. It was always obvious Spain's run would eventually end, but it seemed likely to be against a physical, defensive and direct counter-attacking side -- someone who preached the precise opposite approach. In fact, they've been overthrown by teams who are influenced by Spain, by teams who press intelligently with technical, hard-working and tactically intelligent players. And that's the key - pressing. Against Netherlands, the three-man Dutch defence man-marked David Silva, Andres Iniesta and Diego Costa, and Spain had opportunities to play through balls. Spain actually had plenty of chances, but were unable to replicate that pressing, so conceded even more.

Chile's approach was extremely similar. They effectively man-marked in midfield, with Arturo Vidal shutting down Sergio Busquets, Marcelo Diaz nullifying David Silva, and Charles Aranguiz forcing Xabi Alonso into the worst game of his career.


It's hard to say it. Perhaps it's a taboo word but legend, Iker Casillas might want to consider early retirement. Against Netherlands, it was obvious he was not just playing below his top form. He was very poor, in his judgement and positioning. The second goal Casillas allowed against Jorge Sampaoli's men was, like more and more of the goals against him, his fault. He punched a ball he should have caught. For goalkeepers, under these lights, that can make all the difference.

Human reflex tells it all...when Casillas start to punch and not catch, it's obvious he lost his confidence. Perhaps, it's time for a new goalkeeper. They have plenty of good ones on the bench that's for sure..


So, if you're like the many of those who embrace a tiki-taka that is so often being overly cautious and conservative, perhaps, Netherlands' style of playing might remind you that football is more than just passing. I'm happy that Spain is out. They are still a good team, with a lot of great players, but perhaps the time has come for a change.

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