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Have we witnessed the death of possession football?

Wednesday 15th February 2017
There is no denying that Barcelona have been absolutely fantastic, often indestructible and just pure magic to watch for many seasons now and I for one have been really glad to have been around to witness it.

But after the La Liga legends have just been turned over 4-0, losing to Paris Saint-Germain in France in the European Champions League, have we just witnessed the death of possession football? Also know as tiki-taka, which has proved to be so successful over the years and has often been copied by other Clubs and Manager's who have taken inspiration from the beautiful slick passing they have created.

On Tuesday night, Barcelona once again bossed possession of the game winning 58%, but they astonishingly only managed a measly 1 shot on target, compared to PSG's 10. How is that even feasible?

This sparked pundits and supporters alike to claim that we have just witnessed the end of an era at Barcelona, the players who have been doing it for such a long time are finally fading out, Clubs have finally figured out how to contain possession football, how to defend effectively as a unit against it and to utilise playing so well as a counter-attacking unit.

Now while this is certainly over dramatised and I have no doubt that Barcelona will be back strong, there is certainly elements of truth in it and this type of football is certainly contained a lot better these days. It is Coached now how to contain such a devastatingly attacking team and if you have pace and intelligence in your team, you can certainly win matches convincingly with having much lesser possession than your opposition.

You only have to look at Chelsea, recently been called defensive by Jose Mourinho. But unfortunately, the Manchester United Manager is simply missing the point here. This is the style of play that has been coached into this Chelsea side by new Manager Antonio Conte, it is not defensive, it is containing and counter-attacking.

The Blues have the players to devastate teams on the counter attack, a lot like PSG did in the week to Barcelona. When you have that pace in your side, you are concentrating on soaking up an attack, winning it back at the right moment and often releasing the ball to your quick players to capitalise on outnumbering the defenders and getting a convincing attack on goal.
This is the way a lot of teams are playing now and you even see it with the lesser teams. If they can contain a superior attacking team and counter attack them, they have every chance of winning the game. Which is why you don't often see an easy game in the top divisions anymore. Especially in the Premier League, you rarely see a side winning by 5-0 anymore, it has been dealt with and it appears this style of play has taken over the tiki-taka for good.

It certainly does appear to be the end of an era for Barcelona, players such as Andre Iniesta and Gerard Pique could well finally become surplus to requirements as they will need to search for quicker and more dynamic players who can switch to a quick counter attack.

Rest in peace Barcelona of the last ten years, thanks for the memories, you have been an absolute joy to watch and it was all to the advantage of my total viewing pleasure!
Simon Phillips
Football Writer for the last 7 years, specialising in the English Premier League and covering a wide range of topics.

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