Early Doors

The death of tiki-taka, or the rebirth of exciting football?

Early Doors

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Spain's utterly-average display in their 3-0 Confederations Cup defeat to Brazil led to the usual suggestions that their era of supremacy is over. Kaput. Finito.

It's a pretty tired follow-up that we see every time the Spaniards or the club football kings of tiki-taka, Barcelona, take the sort of beating they're apparently only allowed to dish out these days.

In fact, there were plenty of participants on both sides at the Maracana who also featured the last time the 'end of an era' autopilots took to the skies - Bayern Munich's brutal splattering of Barca in the Champions League last four.

It probably feels like deja vu to them. And to us spectators too.

But the truth is that this isn't a death. Quite the opposite.

Football is alive. And a supposedly-meaningless tournament has provided the finishing touches to the resurrection.

Credit where it is due, Spain have been nothing short of amazing for the last six years. Their style of football has become a thing of sporting fashion and their success has made them one of, if not the top national football sides of all time.

But it was getting dull. So, so dull.

Tiki-taka will keep the ball. Tiki-taka will keep the ball some more. Tiki-taka will be salivated over and worshipped by puny opponents. Tiki-taka will sap the willpower of everyone in sight.

ED is not saying that Spain and Barcelona must do badly for football to prosper. We've just been in dire need of someone, anyone, to drag them out of their almost painfully smug comfort zones.

Bayern did that in the spring, and now Brazil have followed suit in a wonderful culmination of a staggeringly enjoyable 'minor' event. Neither side were underdogs, of course, but their successful approaches against tiki-taka can and will be replicated.

Sure, Spain could yet easily retain the World Cup on the very same pitch which hosted their dissection, and subsequently dismiss the 3-0 humbling as an insignificant blip on the road to another 'real' final.

But there now exists cast-iron evidence that tiki-taka is not the only way to play these days.

Not only that, but the antidote to the Spanish stronghold cooked up an absolute humdinger of a contest for a massive global audience. And exciting, open football matches are good, right?

Brazil of course would love to replicate the deafening roars inside the Maracana in a year's time. They have reason to believe they can do anything at the moment.

But their key to success against Spain was not exactly rocket science. They simply showed the world champions no respect, put them under intense pressure and forced them into unfamiliar, uncomfortable territory.

And even when the Spanish hit their attacking stride, Brazil showed the true meaning of a superb defensive display (SPOILER ALERT: it isn't putting 10 men inside their own final third). Julio Cesar, David Luiz and Thiago Silva in particular were superb.

Brazil have a shedload of quality players at their disposal, of course: a country of 193 million football-obsessed people means the deepest talent pool on the planet.

But they are not the only country who can realistically take the same approach. There are at least half a dozen nations with the firepower to match Sunday night's intrepid approach and open up a ton of otherwise lop-sided games.

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If more teams wake up from the hypnotic spell football has been under thanks to Spain and Barca, the 2014 World Cup will be wide open. The action will feel fresher. And it won't just be in Spain matches where things improve.

Every match between a clear favourite and a clear underdog will no longer likely be a tedious tussle between classy and cynical play. Put the superior teams under pressure. Roll the dice.

It may end in a heavier defeat but it could yield a performance with the guts and glory that Big Phil Scolari and his boys treated a delighted partisan crowd to on Sunday.

The common case against this argument appears to be Tahiti. Who would want to ship six, seven or 10 and 'devalue the tournament' when they can just plead guilty to the crime of being less developed as a nation and accept the lesser charge of a 2-0 snorefest reverse?

What tripe. Tahiti devalued nothing. They earned their spot and they attracted more casual fans than your average whipping boy ever could.

The Confederations Cup has proven that a little hustle and a complete lack of fear is a breath of fresh air.

And even Spain now must go back to the drawing board and add a few new wrinkles to their battleplan if they are to be sure of a second world title in 2014.

Their loss could be a huge win for fans bored with 99% of the world accepting their roles in tournaments.

Here's hoping it really does shake things up on the road to the finals, and isn't just a one-off.

QUOTE OF THE WEEKEND

"For me, there is a limit and, in the next five to 10 years, I will quit coaching. To compete in the Dakar Rally is a lifetime ambition for me and is something I know I have to do. It went from a passion to an obligation, a destination of life, but I can only do it when I leave football. I will do it." - Andre Villas-Boas sizes up the eventual transition from Tottenham manager to... Dakar driver? Yes, AVB wants to have a go at the event which has taken over 60 lives in its history.

FOREIGN VIEW

It’s July 1, which means the transfer window floodgates are open. But while all eyes are on the big hitters of England, Germany, Italy and Spain, some of Europe’s smaller leagues were busy on Sunday. PSV Eindhoven signed highly-rated Dutchman Adam Maher from Eredivisie rivals AZ, while Montpellier’s sought-after Moroccan Younes Belhanda has moved to Dynamo Kiev. Over to you, big boys…

COMING UP

Eurobot and Jan Molby are in the house this afternoon. With the window now open, you can bet they will both be all over it. We also continue our Ballon d'Eurosport countdown of the top footballers in the world today, and if football goodness just isn't enough, we'll have more tremendous coverage of Wimbledon and the Tour de France throughout the day.

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