Munich and Rio de Janeiro are approximately 6000 miles apart, the cities’ traditional drinks couldn’t be more different from one another and both, the Bavarian capital and the city of the carnival, had very little in common until yesterday.
After last night, however, both cities are a timely reminder that tiki-taka can indeed be defeated. The intricate web of passes and deft touches with which Spain and Barcelona had successfully subjugated Europe and the world into submission had momentarily crumbled down as Bayern Munich swept past Barcelona, suffered another massive blow last night as Spain were humbled by Brazil.
Obviously, as bad the score-line was for Spain, dismissing Vicente Del Bosque’s men past their best or consider tiki-taka a relic would be foolish and extremely short-sighted.
After all, yesterday’s was Spain’s first defeat in 29 games and there’s very little to suggest that La Roja will have failed to recover from this setback, by the time they step onto a Brazilian turf again in 12 months time, just like Bayern Munich’s trouncing of Barcelona didn’t spell the end of an era for the Catalans.
However, over the last 12 months, Spain have lost something that could make their quest for more glory, incredibly more complicated than it has been over the last six years. Del Bosque’s men, just as Barcelona, had looked so unbeatable in their tiki-taka armour that the overwhelming majority of opponents, aware of the consequences of waking the giant, were often adopted a damage-limitation approach.
Bayern and Brazil, however, showed the world that tiki-taka, while remaining a powerful weapon, no longer holds the stranglehold on world football it once did which could, in theory, open the door for more exciting football in the near future.
Obviously, very few teams have the luxury of having Neymar and Robben in their ranks, but it was refreshing to see opponents taking the games at Spain, rather than simply sit back and try to weather the storm.
In the semifinal, Cesare Prandelli’s bold approach almost paid off as Italy created many chances but were denied a spot in the final by their own profligacy in front of goal – as well as by Leonardo Bonucci’s skyward penalty – something Brazil did not indulge into as they put three unanswered goals past Iker Casillas.
To put Spain’s defeat simply down to the demise of tiki-taka, however, would be to do a disservice to Brazil, for the South Americans deserve a huge amount of credit. Felipe Scolari had been criticised for not delivering results in the prestigious friendlies Brazil have played over the last 12 months and for a lack of entertaining football which, to many Brazilians, is as important as winning itself.
Ironically, Scolari’s men produced their best and most entertaining show against a team that, while having the purists salivating, had deprived football of its exciting and entertaining component, as we all became too accustomed with pass completion rates, rather than incisive counter-attacks.
Brazil are a very talented team, one whose full potential seems to be still not completely appreciated in Europe where the hype surrounding Neymar has almost disguised the quality of his team-mates.
By the time the World Cup begins in 12 months, however, the world will be fully aware of Brazil’s qualities, just as they will know that Spain are a beatable, if ever so tough, opponent.
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