Tiki-Taka No More: Why Spain need to re-invent themselves following recent World Cup exit
Shocking results at the World Cup. They don't come much more shocking than Spain exiting in the Round of 16. What's that Germany? Oh, right. Sorry.
Nevertheless, La Roja returned home following a lacklustre display against Russia. A one-goal draw and loss on penalties against the home nation was a disappointing result. Spain were expected to be title contenders.
Their early exit from Russia will likely trigger several changes going forward. Fernando Hierro won't continue as the manager. Several players could retire. Andres Iniesta already announced his departure. A mass exodus will spark some major changes in the future of the National Team. But change absolutely has to happen regardless of who becomes the new manager. And while some won't want to hear it, Spain must forget about tiki-taka.
Why abandon a style that brought a World Cup title, two European Championships and fame all over the world? Simple. They do not have the players needed to play it anymore. This is not a knock on the team's talent, rather an adjustment that the club should make sooner than later.
To be completely honest, tiki-taka should have ended as soon as Xabi Alonso retired. He is gone, but so are Xavi Hernandez and Iniesta. The replacements are not on the same level, at least from a technical perspective. Sergio Busquets might be an upgrade defensively, but he is nowhere near Alonso when it comes to talent, technical ability and passing range. Koke is no Xavi. And while Thiago Alcantara is among the top box-to-box midfielders in the world, he is not Iniesta. Neither Koke nor Thiago can deliver the inch-perfect through-balls on which tiki-taka depends.
The same goes for Isco. The Real Madrid playmaker is an absolute star, a creative savant, but he gets lost playing on the wing. Even though he scored in the World Cup, he was far from his best. In reality, he underperformed, too often playing lateral or backward balls. As he went, so did Spain. A side loaded with talent just couldn't click, especially when the going got tough.
No one is saying that Spain need to undergo a massive surgery. They can still focus on possession but they must revise their intent. If you are going to hold possession, you must have an attacking intent. Otherwise, it's pointless. Spain completed over a thousand passes against Russia but attempted only 23 shots. If you average [average!] 45 passes for each shot attempted, you are not aggressively attacking the goal. Especially against an inferior team like Russia.
Only time will tell whether Spain adjust their playing style, but they should know you can't keep doing the same thing and expect to achieve a different result.