If David Moyes’ task at Manchester United isn’t a easy one, then its fair to say Gerrardo Martino’s reign at Barcelona has been far from a stroll in the park. The former Newell’s Old Boys manager has found it extremely difficult since he replace Tito Villanova. The Catalan giants are out of Europe, and Wednesdays Copa Del Rey final has been billed as a ‘must win’ as the Barca higher Archie will be expecting at least one trophy to be heading to the Nou Camp this season.
So why has this season been so difficult? One potential reason I feel is, is that the ‘tika taka’ style of football isn’t as revolutionary anymore as it once was. Liverpool and Bayern Munich are teams that are adopting something similar methods to Barca’s ‘tika taka’ style of football, and both teams are finding more joy in than their respective Catalan counterparts.One of the 2 sides I mentioned (Bayern Munich) are managed by none other than Pep Guardiola. Guardiola the former Barcelona midfielder was key to the ‘Barcelona way’ that the current team tries to operate. The main problem for Barca is that they have been ‘found out’ yesterdays match against Granada was a prime example of Barca’s lack of plan B, the La Liga strugglers lined up with ‘2 rows of 4’ making it near impossible for the Catalans to break them down. The La Liga strugglers ended a 3 game losing streak and upset the form book and beat the Catalan giants. A key area for me is that Barcelona in their prime brought when many believed at the time was a ‘footballing revolution’.Neat intricate passing triangles and excellent retaining of possession, Barcelona would ware teams down and what I believe was a key factor to them scoring so many goals. To be fair Barca are this seasons top scorers in La Liga, but the problem is in games such as against Atletico Madrid in the champions league and Granada in La Liga they have looked flat and lacked a plan B.What Bayern and Liverpool to their credit have improved Barca’s revolutionary system, both sides have a ‘plan B’ and seem flexible in their formations, Barcelona don’t seem to have that. Its all fair and well blowing teams away in the games that are going well, but its the tighter games that Barcelona need to try something different.
So is it time to change the ‘tikka taka’? In short they don’t, myself being a football purist I love football to be played in the ‘proper way’. What need Barca need to do is have a ‘plan B’ to many ‘creative small players’ is potentially a problem with bigger athletic teams ‘bullying’ Barcelona it seems at times. Iniesta,Pedro and not forgetting to mention Xavi,these players epitomise ‘the Barcelona way’ but its not working, eliminated from the Champions League at the Quarter Finals stage, and although third place is not a disastrous place to be in one of the tightest La Liga races in years, it is a concern that when they need a win the most Barcelona haven’t produced this year.
With the transfer embargo placed on Barca, after the Neymar transfer saga this will force Barca to blood fresh talent. Sadly players like Xavi and Puyol can’t go on forever, and with Puyol not getting younger and being the victim of injuries, his replacements are just that. Javier Mascherano (a central midfielder) emphasises how they have struggled to replace such a player. Teams maybe feel this is a area where Barca can be targeted, the Granada game emphasises this point. Unfortunatley I feel Gerrardo Martino needs to step aside and Barca should appoint Luis Enrique, the former Barca midfielder is a ‘disciple of the tika taka philosophy’. People may see it as a problem for Barca (the transfer ban) but I feel this will help Barca to improve the team and maybe help Barcelona to go back to ‘what they know best’ and that is to bread from within and to appoint managers with the ‘Barca philosophy’ but they need bigger,stronger and more athletic players, a model similar to Bayern Munich. Tika taka isn’t dead, well not yet as Bayern and Liverpool are only now seeing the benefits of the system, both sides are flexible with formation. In Barca’s case they brought a new style of football to the football world and I don’t see why they can’t do it again, as the current playing system needs a slight improvement but not by much, just essentially they need a ‘plan B’. Watch this space as Barcelona will be back back stronger and stronger than ever.