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The Concept of Tiki-Taka Football

In modern football, the term 'tiki-taka' is now thrown around quite a bit. Sometimes it just simply used after seeing a combination of passes. However, this specific 'style' was truly popularized after the success of Barcelona under Pep Guardiola. For coaches to try and present this style of play to their teams, it should be understood that there are a few very key principles that make this style what it is. From watching this video, it becomes clear that Barca exhibit many distinct attributes that allow this method to work so well. In my view and opinion, these are the key attributes:

1. Immediate objective after recovering the ball from the opposition is to shift the ball away from that immediate pressure... by passing not dribbling.

- Dribbling invites another tackle and makes it easier for that defender to continue to put hard pressure on the ball opposed to passing it

2. Play the first option you see as quickly as possible. This doesn’t mean put your head down, take a dribble and then play the same guy you were thinking means as soon as you see him play him. Keep the ball always moving.

-Requires a couple basic principles:

-Play with your head up, so you can immediately see that first option

- Play 1 touch when possible, 2 if necessary

- As a group, always provide angles around the ball... so that a 1 touch pass is always possible

-After you play the ball, don’t be afraid to get it right back. A wall pass, keeps the ball moving and therefore the defenders.

3. Must play 3-4 consecutive passes, all 1-2 touch in order to break that immediate pressure from the opposition that will come from winning the ball back from them.

-Pretty much this is what is seen as 'tiki-taka' by everyone and not all the work and tactics behind the scenes

4. This is key as well... the fifth pass is a longer one and opens the game up. Xavi is brilliant at this. In soccer language, it is often referred to as 'switching the field'. It would virtually be impossible to play that one touch passing style through the pressure non-stop. So what this pass does is essentially allow the pressure to be broken and allow for a momentary break from the tiki-taka. It now allows the team to exploit a new space on the field where there is probably considerably less pressure.


I am a youth and college soccer coach who is passionate about making coaching my career and helping assist players in their development. I am always trying to learn from the game and always willing to share with others the insights I have made from the game. If you have coaching tips or materials you would like to share, just contact me.

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