Tiki Taka Barcelona: Is This The End?
In the last season it appeared that the shining Tiki Taka Barcelon lost its edge against major opponents. Their style of play seemed to attract too many criticism after failing to win any trophy this season. Is this a sign the players lost their motivation? Is this the end of Tiki Taka Barcelona, probably the best team of all time?
The departure of late Tito Vilanova seemed that Barcelona’s style of play will change, a transitions from the possession game to a more direct style. In the first part of the season Barcelona seemed to have no problem in using the same style both in UEFA Champions League and in La Liga. Barcelona managed to win 2-0 in El Clasico and had only one major contender in La Liga: Atletico Madrid. Unfortunately, Lionel Messi was injured, but was successfully replaced by Alexis Sanchez and Pedro, who scored vital goals for the team.
However, in the second part of the season Tiki Taka Barcelona seemed to struggle. Only after Demichelis was sent off, Barcelona managed to score on Etihad Stadium. Despite wining the second El Clasico of the season 4-3, Barcelona seemed to have been cursed: Valdes was injured and Messi did not regained his form. Valdes’ injury was a critical blow for the team.
The matches against Atletico Madrid caught the Blaugrana team in a difficult period: when the team was struggling to score, and the tean was having serious defense problems. The Copa del Rey Final against Real proved again that Barcelona had difficulties in defense, lacking an experienced leader like Carles Puyol. Carles Puyol was vital for the team, the captain being decisive for the team in hard moments and ensuring certitude in defense.
It ended bad for Martino’s team in the final match of the season, when Barcelona missed the title because of Godin’s header.
What will happen with Tiki Taka Barcelona in the next season? The management said that it would be a change and even players like Mascherano said that this was the end of an era.
Luis Enrique was unveiled as the new head coach and seems that Tiki Taka Barcelona will continue, by entering into a new age. Enrique succeeded Guardiola at Barcelona B and many players consider that his philosophy is the same as the one of the current manager of Bayern Munich. Luis Enrique had a 1 year unsuccessful spell at Roma. but it was a long term project and the quality of the players was debatable, We can see from the example of Brendan Rogers that a team that struggled in the first year managed to be a title contender in the second season. Will Enrique have the same opportunity and patience from the management?
Moreover, is gonna be able to motivate a locker room full super stars? More important is the fact whether this group of players still have the motivation to win. Most of the Spaniards that form the skeleton of the team won everything (UEFA Champions League, World Cup, European Championship) and probably are looking for another challenge. Victor Valdes stated that he is leaving Barca because he needs a new motivation.
Obviously, Tiki Taka Barcelona needs some new forces in their starting 11. The defense needs someone to replace Puyol, while in the attack it is needed a real 9 player, that can dominate the opponents in the air. Were the the last transfers effective? Neymar certainty did not deliver as much as it was expected, and the partnership with Messi did not created that joy and goals that everyone expected (but Messi had a decent season overall). Speculations say that Pedro or Alexis will be sold in order to be able to sign a new striker. Is that wise? These 2 hard working players replaced the injured Messi and together scored 40 goals.
Tiki Taka Barcelona just ended a performance cycle started more than 6 years ago, when Spain managed to win the European Championship (having a blaugrana skeleton). The following seasons were an unstoppable array of performances and broken records. Luis Enriques, who has Barcelona’s DNA, will continue using a similar approach, but he needs to make important changes.