Tiki Taka Interview Part 2 - FC Barcelona Possession Practice

Coaching The Tiki Taka Style of Play

Part 2 of 2 Interview with the Author and Coach;
Jed Davies + FC Barcelona Sample Practice Below
Dear Fellow Coach,

In Part 1, Jed explained the philosophy behind Tiki-Taka and how you, the coach, can benefit from reading this book.

Here, in part 2 of our interview with Jed, he discusses the importance of Rinus Michels, Johan Cruyff and Total Football.

He also answers our questions on whether Tiki-Taka can be applied to various formations and if the Tiki-Taka style of play relies more on the technical level of the players or more on the coach's tactics.

Interview with Author
You can view Part 1 of this Interview from this link
6. How important were Johan Cruyff’s ideas and Total Football in forming the current model?
There are many coaches and players who have contributed to the current model: Matthias Sindelar, Viktor Maslov, Gusztav Seves and Valeriy Lobanovskyi (the book credits twelve coaches and/or movements for their innovative changes leading up to the current day model).

Above all though, stands Rinus Michels and the collaborative changes he made as the manager of Ajax and Johan Cruyff in the 1970s and 1980s. It was the Dutch who first brought together the pressing, fluency of positional interchanges and the short passing game together – none of that however, was invented by the Dutch as such.

Michels actually didn’t like the term ‘totaal voetbal’ (total football) [just as so many don’t actually like the term ‘tiki-taka’, both of which are media-branded] and referred to his own tactical approach as the ‘pressing approach’ – a rather defensive term for such attacking artistry, but this shows you how the Dutch began to understand that all of football is intertwined and overlaps. Michels considered the defensive tactical elements to be in a sort of cyclical relationship with the attacking tactical elements of football (attacking, defending and the two transitions) – everything was now considered, the whole of football.

From Brazil’s Tabelinha to River Plate’s La Maquina, through to the Mighty Magyars of Hungary, Totaal Voetbal, more scientific football approaches found in the east right through to tiki-taka, I have covered a lot in the book and I truly believe that without each and every daring game-changing ‘inventor’, we wouldn’t have had many of the great footballing sides in the last few decades.

I hope those who read my book notice that I have credited Shankly, Bielsa and others not covered in the timeline, because they too have played their part in strengthening the belief that football can be both innovative and beautiful and will continue to capture the imagination of football fans. Football is a game that will never stop evolving.
7. Can Tiki Taka be applied to various different formations?
The current popular model suggests the ‘correct’ formation is 4-3-3 and hundreds have mindlessly looked to mimic this (this may well be the most appropriate formation for your team, but you need to understand why before arguing that). However, I argue strongly in this book that there is no such thing as a ‘correct’ formation conducive to this style of play and philosophy, there are instead a set of governing rules that ask you to attack, defend and deal with the transitions in particular ways. The formation and/or positional slots used within the formation will differ from one ability group to another and could differ from opponent to opponent.

I have recently experimented with a rather Bielsa-esque positional system with an Oxford University side that has required me to be non-role specific in training sessions as we achieve the 3-4-1-2 possession shape from a 4-4-2 diamond through a rather bizarre flurry of movement: full-backs tuck inside, one centre back pushes into midfield and the two centre midfielders either side of the diamond split to offer width. The funny thing is, all of this has precedents (Ajax 1994, Chile 2010) and the formation changes are far more rational than first considered. We now have an option to go 5-3-2 if we are in danger down the flanks on the negative transition and we use the exact same in-possession formation that Barcelona used from time to time under Guardiola when Messi dropped deep.

The system used with this Oxford University side has also taken into account the player profiles we have in terms of our ability to counter attack effectively and for that reason we defend with two strikers rather than the traditionally used one (outlets on a counter attack if opposition is unorganised). This is of course, a more extreme scenario that shows formation and positional slots aren’t as fixed as you’d first imagine and that it’s the coverage and positions on the field that allows for a variety of short passing options that is conducive to the short, snappy passing that you would expect in areas of the pitch.
8. How much relies on the technical level of the players and how much relies on the coach’s tactics when trying to produce an effective Tiki Taka style of play?
I’d like to finish this interview with a short argument put forward that suggests that you only need to be as technical as your opponents to achieve many of the components considered in tiki-taka. You’d also perhaps expect these players to be highly creative right? Well many coaches in Spain would suggest not, we instead need great decision makers who can recognise patterns. This is a debate we could put up to the greatest thinkers of today’s game and we’d have a variety of answers, but it is also an eye opener that there is no right answer and there is no right way of playing or developing players. Instead, there are a set of purposeful and deliberate models that often lead to the same outcome.

So the coaching methods and technical levels of the players are up for questioning but what is imperative is that the coach has a comprehensive understanding of the components within the style of play and a very deliberate thinking process behind each of the four stages in the implementation model: a playing philosophy, training methodology, match day implementation and post-match reviews and adaptations. You are the one that needs to be invested to achieve your desired outcome and it’s up to you to bring about an adaptable model that is unique to your own strengths as well as the players, the culture and other aspects that make up the implementation model.
FC BARCELONA: 5 v 2 / 5 v 8 Quick Transition Game with Central Square
FC BARCELONA: 5 v 2 / 5 v 8 Quick Transition Game

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  • Pages: 224
  • Print: FULL COLOUR
  • Analysis/Sessions: 30
  • Practices: 50
  • Age Group: U11-Pro
  • Excellent
    "A thorough introduction to the 'tiki-taka' style, including the historical evolution and adaptations. Excellent & importantly clear to understand training plans, topped off with case studies, breakdowns, observations, quotes & notes. I learn something new every time I pick up this book." Mercier, France
    "I have bought many coaching books over the years. However, this one is head and shoulders above all others. It combines a history of the beautiful game with some outstanding training resources which I have used with my boys, and which they genuinely enjoy and are challenged. Would encourage all coaches to buy." John, United Kingdom
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    eBook also Available
    Jed Davies outlines in detail the Tiki-Taka football philosophy popularised by Barcelona and Spain and shows you, the coach, how to implement this style of play. Davies has studied the methods used at FC Barcelona, Liverpool FC, Swansea City FC, Villarreal CF and AFC Ajax who have all developed possession based philosophies as a way of controlling and winning games.

    Part 1 explores the development theory that requires an understanding before you are able to produce the Tiki-Taka style of football, this includes: Establishing a Football Philosophy, Identifying Local Talent and Purposeful Training.

    Part 2 looks at the Tiki-Taka philosophy and how it can be developed through purpose designed training sessions. 50 practices are provided from professional clubs including FC Barcelona, AFC Ajax, Athletic Bilbao and Liverpool FC.

    Part 3 looks at the influential figures in the evolution of Tiki-Taka with chapters on Rinus Michels (‘The Father of Football’), Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola among others.

    Part 4 looks at the Tactical Theory and provides a blueprint of how to play with the Tiki-Taka brand of football. It analyses positional systems, game realistic situations and solves tactical problems such as when the opposition are sitting in a deep low block (‘Parking the Bus’), all using the advice provided from professional coaches who have been involved in the implementation of the Tiki-Taka philosophy.

    Practice Topic Samples:

    • AFC AJAX: 4 v 4 (+2) End to End Possession Game
    • FC BARCELONA: 5 v 4 Breaking Out of the Middle Third
    • VILLARREAL CF: The Gridded 4 Goal Game
    • ATHLETIC BILBAO: Finding Space within the Block (Pattern Play)
    • LIVERPOOL FC: The Defensive Block Scoring Zone Game
    • FC BARCELONA: Switching Play through a Central Zone Transition Game
    • AFC AJAX: 3 v 3 / 6 v 3 Quick Phases Transition Game

    eBook also Available
    Meet the Author

    Jed C. Davies

    Jed C. Davies

    Jed is the assistant manager and head of analysis for Oxford University Centaurs and has worked with various youth players throughout Europe.

    He has studied the methods used at FC Barcelona, Liverpool FC, Swansea FC, Villarreal CF, AFC Ajax and a number of teams developing a particular fascination with the possession based philosophies in football as a way of controlling and winning games.

    Tiki-Taka football is a style of football popularised by Spain and Barcelona during the decade ending 2010 and is part of a philosophy in football that has existed right from the game’s very beginnings: a way of controlling the game through possession and positional systems.

    Jed Davies has been fortunate enough to speak in great lengths with a number of coaches who work at the clubs who currently advocate the possession based philosophy and in doing so, has developed a clear understanding of what the tiki-taka philosophy is and how it can be developed through purpose designed training sessions.

    A train of thought has been developed that football that is played in this way is developed through it’s ‘form’: positional systems, attitudes to building up possession etc. Davies therefore has proposed that football tactics should be designed around the dictum “form follows process”, a way of perfect football within an adaptive structure where the structure and positional system is the agent of change, rather than the players themselves.

    Coaching The Tiki Taka Style of Play

    This exceptional book contains a complete coaching resource on the
    Tiki Taka
    philosophy, development, training methods, tactical insight and of course practices from FC Barcelona, Ajax, Liverpool and more.

    Tactical: 30 | Practices: 50 | Age: U11-Pro | Pages: 224
    - Paperback: FULL COLOUR
    - eBook: PC / Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android Phone and Tablets
    - Paperback + eBook: Best Value

    eBook also Available
    Best Wishes,

    Coach George
    Director of Coaching
    UK: +44 208 1234 007 | US: +1 305 767 4443

    Learn how to Coach your Team the 'Tiki Taka' Style of Play
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