Last July 1st, Spain recorded the biggest European Championship and Worldcup final win of all time as they claimed a 4-0 victory over Italy and became the first team in history to win three successive major tournaments; Euro Cup 2008, World Cup 2010 and again Euro Cup 2012.
They gave an exhibition that will live long in the memory.
This was a night when Spain’s dominance of international football became more absolute than any team’s before them.
The only remaining question is whether they are the greatest of all time.
Cult sides are not only measured by the trophies they win, but for the capacity to develop a particular style of play that captures people imagination to how they want football to be played.
Enter tiki-taka, a fast passing game, started upon first contact with the ball, and then straight into the goal. The opposing team finds itself running after the ball constantly and gets worn down by the action. Tiki-taka is based in a collective, short-passing, technical and super-creative game.
Tiki-taka is also defensive, just not “defensive” the way we know it. Put simply: If you don’t have possession, you cannot attack Spain. If it controls the game, you cannot cause it problems. When you do get the ball back, there is an anxiety to do something with it immediately that damages creativity and leads into mistakes. Tiki-Taka is control, defend and solidarity, always having players in the right position, always having options to receive the ball, and ready to help a teammate.
Spain’s play is functional and beautiful, demonstrated by the way they pass the ball and the way they consistently win. They combine the two to great effect, exemplifying the paradox that people always had been struggling to get their head around.