In the last decade the playing style of Tiki-Taka has become of the most successful tactics in its time period.
What caught my attention and heart, was the accuracy in passing and movement both with and without the ball which overrun its opponents, no matter their playing style or formation. I loved how Spain and Barcelona passed the ball so quickly between each other that it wore out the opponents, both to do more mistakes and to weaken their attacking system.
With this tactic I’ve tried to summarize the key essence of the Total Football and Tiki-Taka, and tried to create my own version of the playing stylewith the focus of what I love about the playing style.
Get used to have an average possession of 60% throughout the season, a pass completion ratio of between 85 and 90% in average and between 1 to 4 clear
This tactic is all about team spirit and team performance. My aim is to encourage assists, goals and key passes from all the players, not only one or two from the attacking line.
As the team will attack as a unity, it will equally defend as a unity. Behind the first defensive line you will have the wingbacks, ball winning midfielder and deep-lying playmaker with the help of the advanced playmaker to hunt the opposite players down, with the aim of winning the ball quickly back.
Goalkeeper defend; I prefer to use a traditional goalkeeper defend despite the high defensive line. <br>
I’ve tried the sweeper keeper defend, but conceded some horrific goals. I also feels the counter-attacking balls would make you prone to loose possession. It is also easier to buy a suitable traditional shot-stopper, rather than finding a suitable sweeper-keeper.
Wingbacks Support; As I want defensive safety when the team hasn’t possession of the ball I want one of the wingbacks to stay in line with the central defenders. He will also support the midfield by trying to win possession and close down opposition wingers.
Both wingbacks has run from deep often, which makes them likely to overlap or aid the attacking line, if the opportunity arises and its safe. The wingbacks will cover large areas (between 11 to 15km per match). I’ve set the right wingback with attacking duty because of Daniel Alves’ excellent stamina, dribbling, good positioning, creativity and passing. You can change duty according to which of the player position who is best. The one wingback with attacking duty can be described as the third attacking threat, as his passing and overlaps gives width to the attacking line. The wingback attack will record a good amount of assists.
Central defenders; As compared to the style of Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol I’ve used ball playing defender and limited defender. As I put many players forward in attacking situations the ball playing defender player role is vital. He will aid the build-up with his creativity and passing. The limited defender will close down players before they enters the area.
Both central defenders will need excellent positioning, marking, tackling, in additional to creativity, passing and anticipation for the ball playing defender.
Ball winning midfielder; One of the key players in this tactic is the ball winning midfielder. <br>
He could be regarded as the third defender as he will stay back all the time, mark opposite player and close down opposition players to try to win possession. Since the defensive line is high I’ve discovered that the ball winning midfielder acts like a playmaker against some opponents, as he will have the most passes and uses his creativity to build up attacking play. He will travel a lot of distance and covers the whole midfield. See screenshot of analysis of his style of play; passing ratio and tackling ratio.
The two different playmakers, deep-lying and advanced; is one of the important keys in the passing completion ratio. They will look to operate in the spaces between the defense and midfield. Both players would need good stamina and work rate. They will pass trough balls often and close down players often to win the ball high up in the field. The advanced playmaker has excellent creativity and anticipation and will move into channels. He will look to arrive late in the area, but also run with the ball often to disturb the opposition defensive line. The deep-lying playmaker will run forward when the right opportunity arises and gives depth in the attacking line when required. He will also need good tackling and positioning. In my save he is the one with the most assists (18 assists).
Inside forwards; are the key to the attacking line. The AMR will look to cut inside to make space for the wingback. The AML will try to unsettle the opposition defender by moving into channels, often between the centerbacks and fullbacks. Both players will close down often to win possession and will require excellent passing, creativity and off the ball, as they will be likely to roam. This way it would be harder for the opposition full backs to mark them out of the game, as they are in constant movement.
Trequartista; Since the early days of life I’ve always loved attacking players who win possession, comes deep to get the ball just to carve out some excellent passes. The trequartista in this tactic will need good work rate and stamina in additional to good anticipation and off the ball. As he will look to be the main attacking threat it could be advantageous to pick a player with good creativity, long shots, dribbling and flair. He will be the first player who will try to win possession. He will also make space for his fellow attacking players and is as deadly with his amount of goals as his amount of assists.
Even though he will have lower passing completion ratio, he recorded 76 key passes in my save!
Important player attributes for the whole team:
When in possession: Technique, passing, first touch, creativity and off the ball is equally important as the main position player attributes.
Win possession: good stamina, work rate, team work, positioning, aggression, concentration and tackling.
Basic Mental Player attributes: decisions, anticipation, composure and creativity
You can read more about important player preferred moves in the original article about this tactic.
My version of Tiki-taka tactics may differ from others, as I want more balance in the team. By using three midfielders instead of 1+2 I wish to provide more attacking depth, so the MC might be the one with the most pass attempts. If you got the right player (with better tackling and marking attribute than Xavi) you could use your deep-lying playmaker in this position. But by using my preferred tactical setup it gives more alternatives when facing different opponents. The MCL (advanced playmaker) can be positioned as AMC (advanced playmaker) to exploit the gaps of the opposition team even more (often used against weaker teams), or you can easily change position of the (Ball winning midfielder) MC as anchor man (DM) when facing tougher opponents who uses an attacking midfielder AMC (for example against Real Madrid).
If you’re struggling to have good possession in the midfield, you could change position of the Trequartista from forward to AMC. This may give you a better link between the defensive zone and attacking zone. But I prefer to use him as an trequartista striker to put pressure on the opposition centerbacks, so they can’t advance with the ball high upfield. Read more about how to win possession and pressurize the opponent in this chapter.
Team (General) Training – How to increase match performance
After a successful pre-season and the tactical familiarity levels has reached 100/100, I approach training by setting the scheduling bar to 20%. This gives you one day before next match to prepare for a specific match training. The players will get a rest after each match.
To increase the match performance in regard to attacking situations I like to set the match training to Attacking Movement by default, and can be compared to general training attacking. But depending on the next opposition it is important to switch to other important match preparations, such as defending set-pieces if playing with Barcelona, or attacking set-pieces if you think your team will get a lot of chances from set-pieces. In my save I conceded many goals from set-pieces, so it could be important to focus on this match preparation.
When setting up general training I think of attacking general training as the main focus, as it develops Crossing, Finishing, Long Shots, Passing, Creativity and Off the ball. I tend to switch training category to ball control, as it develops Dribbling, First Touch, Heading, Technique and Flair.
If your playing with a team unfamiliar with the playing style and formation it could be important to set general training to tactics, as it increases Anticipation, Composure, Concentration, Decisions and Team Work. This training category is often set to the youth team or reserve teams, as you want to develop their tactical knowledge and be fully prepared.
Preferred Touchline Instructions:
This touchline instructions is all about slowing the tempo down, keep possession and look to frustrate the opponents by high amount of passes and be more patient as it lowers the through ball setting to sometimes. I always tend to use this shout no matter opponent in the first minutes of the match to analyze the opposition teams defensive line, width and player instructions.
Touchline instructions highlighted in blue is the preferred instructions to either create space or dominate space.
Tiki Taka – Attacking fluidity
This touchline instructions is all more about change of passing style – to be more directly. It will create more chances because of more space to roam and will also put more pressure on the opposition team by shorten the space to the opponent by pushing the team higher up. he playing style will be changed to higher tempo, more width and increased through ball settings, to get the ball in the final third.
I tend to use this shout instructions against better teams, but also against weaker teams when struggling to score goals. Of course the defensive line depends on the opposition team, but for shorter periods this has worked very well. Against stubborn defenses it may be advantageous to change the control third instructions from play through defense to run at defense, which might make your MCL to the man of match!
With this tactic I won the treble in the first season;
- won the La liga 17 points a head of Real Madrid – scored the most goals and conceded the least!
- won the Champions League 3-2 over FC Bayern Munich
- won the Spanish Super Cup
- Only lost 3 matches of 61!