Barcelona's Tiki-Taka: 5 Teams Who've Tried to Emulate Them

Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterOctober 31, 2012

Barcelona's Tiki-Taka: 5 Teams Who've Tried to Emulate Them

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    If a team achieves success, others copy.

    Barcelona's tiki-taka philosophy, resurrected by Pep Guardiola during his tenure as Barca boss, has been idolised by many a manager, but who has taken the bold steps to replicate it?

    Xavi and Andres Iniesta have been the heartbeat of a pass-happy midfield at the Nou Camp for four years running, so which midfielders have been given the unenviable task of utilising their philosophy?

Swansea City

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    Brendan Rodgers made his managerial name at Swansea City.

    He gained promotion from the Championship in 2011 by utilising a possession-based game with the Welsh club, but not many took note of his achievements until the Swans were excelling on the English Premier League stage.

    Leon Britton and Joe Allen became kings in a midfield adept at retaining the ball under any circumstances. Last season, Swansea tied for the third-highest possession figures away from home, with 55 percent—leaders Arsenal managed 58.

    At home, they managed a whopping 59 percent average, tying for second (on par with Manchester City).

    Tiki-taka is famed for allowing smaller but technically proficient players to excel, which is exactly what happened here.

Liverpool

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    “Our idea is to pass teams to a standstill so they can no longer come after you. Eventually you wear them down."

    Brendan Rodgers has carried his blueprint from Swansea to Liverpool as he looks to install the same philosophies at Anfield.

    He's as possession-hungry as ever, improving the Reds' figures to an average of 56.6 percent per game, ranking them fourth highest in the English Premier League (above the Swans under Michael Laudrup's stewardship).

    Joe Allen, brought over from Swansea to spark the revolution, has a 92.5 percent pass completion rate off an average of 70.7 passes per game.

    The Ulsterman also brought Fabio Borini in to ease the transition, having worked with him with the Swans.

    In the same vein, Rodgers shifted Jay Spearing (who can't pass), Charlie Adam (who tries Hollywood balls) and Andy Carroll (whose aerial threat is diminished by this system).

Athletic Bilbao

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    Over the course of last season, Athletic Bilbao turned heads worldwide with their entertaining and admirable style of play.

    Similarities were drawn to Barcelona's pass-and-move philosophy, and rightly so—Marcelo Bielsa's side displayed many of the characteristics encouraged by Pep Guardiola.

    Los Leones were fond of keeping the ball on the deck, bringing the very best out of Javi Martinez, Ander Herrera and Andoni Iraola et al. The Argentinian coach even taught Fernando Llorente to chest it backward rather than flick it forward in an attempt to retain the ball.

    They also utilised the high-pressing strategy la Blaugrana are famed for, nullifying notable teams such as Sporting and Manchester United. It should be said, however, that Bielsa used this aspect of the game long before Guardiola did.

    The unfortunate setback was that they weren't quite as good as Barca using this tactic, and the mistakes they made in possession saw them chasing the ball more than Bielsa would have liked.

    Fatigue took over, and they limped to the end of the season.

Spain

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    First, a note: Barcelona and Spain play different football.

    That said, there are aspects of the Barca game that both Luis Aragones and Vicente del Bosque have taken and used for the Spanish national side.

    They have both filled their midfields with la Blaugrana players and allowed them to operate as they do at club level. During Euro 2012, Xavi set the record for the number of attempted passes in one game, totalling 136 (127 were successful).

    The Barcelona spine in the Spanish national team helped del Bosque take a backseat during the Euros, with Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Sergio Busquets, Pedro and Gerard Pique taking care of business for him.

    This team also utilises the high pressing found with regularity at the Nou Camp, but less emphasis was placed on it. It is generally believed that the players were tired after a long season, and tiki-taka was the perfect recipe to allow them to rest in possession.

As Roma

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    Luis Enrique took the reins at AS Roma at the start of the 2011-12 season.

    He arrived in the Italian capital fresh from success with the Barcelona B team, working as a close associate of Tito Vilanova and Pep Guardiola.

    Having been educated in the ways of the tiki-taka, he tried to instill them in Rome. Unfortunately, it didn't work out. The Giallorossi bowed out of the UEFA Europa League at the earliest possible stage to Slovan Bratislava, then limped to a seventh-placed finish in the league.