The funeral began with a shriek. The shriek of a whistle. At 5 pm Wednesday, Spain’s Tiki-taka, which had been on life-support after the 5-1 mauling by the Dutch last week, breathed its last.
Chile, who plunged the knife, were gracious in their conquest, helping bury the deceased by shoveling compliments with earth. The wreath was placed by the former players, while the media honoured Iker Casillas’s great reign with a 21-gun salute. “Thank you for the memories,” said the press. “Tiki-taka, tada,” tweeted England’s only World Cup Golden Boot winner, Gary Lineker.
Spain’s Tiki-taka, an off-spring of Holland’s Totaalvoetbal, was born in the mid-90s, when Johan Cruyff (Total Football’s greatest custodian) took over as manager of Barcelona. The Dutchman taught his boys the art of free-flowing football. But Tiki-taka evolved as a more possession-based game, holding the ball in psychedelic triangles.
In the mid-2000s, it took off under Cruyff’s countryman and protege, Frank Rijkaard. By delivering Barcelona the Champions League title in the 2005-06 season, he proved that Tiki-taka wasn’t just pleasing on the eye but also a method. A method which would be enormously successful.
With Barcelona’s growing influence in the national team, Tiki-taka was adopted by Madrid’s two great sons, coach Luis Aragones and captain Casillas, to hand Spain the European Championships in 2008 — ending a barren spell of 44 trophy-less years. That crack broke the dam.
Over the following six years, Tiki-taka was the ticking talk of football town. Barcelona won six titles in 2009, including the Champions Trophy — one of three in five years. And Spain followed up Euro ’08 with a World Cup in 2010 and a second consecutive European Championships title in 2012.
But even before its eventual demise in Brazil, Tiki-taka was in ill health. It’s well-wishers should have seen it coming when Barcelona had gone trophy-less for the first time in six years.
Tiki-taka, as we know it, is no more now. There may be illegitimate children, but officially it is survived by none.