Originally posted on You Are My Arsenal

Tiki-Taka is dead.

Vive Le Counter-Attack.

If this season is anything to go by, the above nonsense seems to be spot on.


Barcelona and now Pep’s Bayern have been efficiently put to the sword by the cut and thrust of Diego Simeone’s Atleti machine.
The Champions League has been Exhibit A for the murder case of Tiki-Taka.

Exhibit B would be the marvel of Leicester City not only winning the Premier League – but at a canter – whilst boasting one of the lowest overall possession stats of the season – a little over 48%.

It appears that having the lion’s share of the ball means very little if you have a springboard in place when you do obtain the leather sphere.

Reports of possession football being dead though, are wide of the mark.

The key component in both footballing frameworks, is adaptability.

Atletico Madrid do not simply take the ‘Mourinho’s Chelsea’ approach, and form a ten man barricade around the eighteen yard box, lying in wait until they inevitably snaffle the ball.
There has been no parked bus in sight. Some may point at the rigid lines as they defend wilfully, but isn’t a defence meant to be organised? Then, when the attack breaks upon the rocks of Atletico, a wave of attack washes upon a hopelessly undermanned enemy. They both attack and defend as one.

Nor do Barcelona or Bayern play continuous passes, whilst moving in an aesthetically pleasing shape, until the opponent is either dazed or too bored to find the ball.
The objective is to keep the ball, but they will score wherever they can open a gap.

They mix and match. Many a time the Catalans have hit a 40yard ball to a rampaging Suarez, Neymar or Messi – which negates their opponents midfield in one swoop.

If Sunderland do it – it’s long-ball tactics.

Alternatively, Simeone has schooled his men so well, they have perfected the timing for when to spring the next attack. They do rely on the pace of Griezmann, but they can certainly pass rings around you if given the chance.

They change their tack game by game. It’s tactics.

In terms of which is better to watch – as Gooners, we have had the most experience to answer this.

What is the point in playing a 72-pass move, when it either ends in a transition of possession, or the ball is still fifteen yards from the box?

It isn’t passing formations we watch football for. We watch and attend games for goalmouth action, to see our team create chances.

Neither mode of football is more aesthetically pleasing – it is the drama and goals we seek. If either come via a counter attack or a flowing move, it matters little. You won’t remember the move. Unless it’s Wilshere’s goal against Norwich a few years back.

I’m proud Arsenal attempt to play around and through the congestion, but if we won 4-0 with all the goals coming from a defended corner, would we bemoan the fact Özil, Ramsey and Sanchez didn’t play a triangular passing move prior to the goal?

Plus, are there many better sights in football, than your team running full pelt towards goal, leaving their markers in the dust, as they counter from a defensive posting?

If we play as we are attempting to this season, we need pace and adaptability. What’s the point in making the ball do the work and cutting out half the opponents defence if we then let them regroup?

We need to adapt, just as our opponents seem to when they successfully gain points from us.

Evolve. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there.