Tiki-Taka Soccer (What It Is and How To Play)

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Tiki-Taka is a strategy that requires soccer players to hold onto the ball and maintain their possession to wear down the opposition.

This style of play has been popularized by the Spanish club FC Barcelona, which employs it successfully. It’s also been adopted by some international teams, such as Germany, England, and Belgium.

Although once seen as an overly defensive tactic, Tiki-Taka Soccer has evolved into a more creative and attacking style of play over time.

In this article, you’ll learn the following:

  • What is Tiki-Taka Soccer?
  • How to implement this successful strategy on your own
  • The evolution of Tiki-Taka Soccer

One reason for its increased popularity is that it allows teams without many star players to compete against bigger squads while maintaining control of the ball most of the time.

Barcelona FC. Puyol in sight taking a pass from Xavi during the 2009 UEFA Champions League Final in Rome Italy
Barcelona FC. Puyol insight taking a pass from Xavi during the 2009 UEFA Champions League Final in Rome Italy

How To Enable Players To Play Tiki-Taka?

Tiki-Taka Soccer is a Spanish term that means short passing game. It is the philosophy of getting players to pass and move instead of resorting to long shots or physical play.

The Tiki-Taka style of play is a game that relies on keeping the ball close to the player’s feet.

The team will keep possession for as long as possible, passing it back and forth until they find an opening in the defense. As a coach, implementing the Tiki-Taka style of play can be tricky.

The following are some things you need to know before implementing this strategy:

  • Define your playing philosophy – What does success look like?
  • Create a culture that embodies this philosophy
  • Identify player roles
  • Develop technical skills and remember that Tiki-Taka requires patience and you should instruct your players to use short passes when possible so opponents can’t steal the ball away
  • Improve decision-making skills
  • Players should be placed in positions where they’re able to receive balls easily, but also have enough space around them for quick passing combinations with teammates without being too far apart from others
  • Practice with purpose and train repetitively to perfect this style of play
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Ilkay Gundogan L of City and Neymar Jr. R of Barcelona pictured in action during the UEFA Champions League Group C game between Manchester City and FC Barcelona at City of Manchester. ○ Soccer Blade
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 1, 2016: Ilkay Gundogan (L) of City and Neymar Jr. (R) of Barcelona pictured in action during the UEFA Champions League Group C game between Manchester City and FC Barcelona at City of Manchester Stadium. Copyright: Cosmin Iftode/Picstaff

What Is The Tiki-Taka Style of Soccer?

Tiki-taka was first used by the Spanish national football team under their manager Luis Aragones. Barcelona has since adopted it, who have won six La Liga titles and three Champions League titles using this technique.

The Tiki-Taka system consists of keeping possession of the ball to wear down the other team’s defense with short passes and quick movement on or off the ball.

The term ‘Tiki-Taka’ comes from the Maori word for kick, which symbolizes how quickly players contact one another.

This strategy is based primarily on technical skill rather than physical strength or speed; it also requires great tactical awareness as well as good spatial awareness to maintain possession.

Ramos - El Classico. Real Madrid vs. Barcelona
Ramos – El Classico. Real Madrid vs. Barcelona

What Are The Characteristics of Tiki-Taka Soccer?


Tiki-Taka is a style of soccer that emphasizes possession, passing accuracy, and high pressure. The phrase Tiki-Taka was coined by Johan Cruyff to describe what he saw as the Spanish football team’s fast-paced anti-football.

Tiki-Taka evolved from traditional long ball tactics where players would kick the ball upfield with little control to short, precise passes that are moved upfield quickly.

Tiki-Taka has been successful because it allows players to maintain possession of the ball for more extended periods than other styles while creating openings through quick attacks on goals or drawing defenders out of position.

Dutch Style Passing
Dutch Style Passing – From our Passing Drills


Intricate triangles characterize the Tiki-Taka Soccer style. The ball moves quickly, and players are constantly moving to create space for themselves or others.

It is a possession-oriented game that emphasizes patience, positional awareness, technical skill, creativity, fast passing, and movement off the ball.

Barcelona has mastered this style of play through its youth system, which produces technically skilled players with an innate understanding of playing as part of a team.


Tiki-Taka is a style of soccer that relies on positions. Positions are important in Tiki-Taka because they allow players to have better vision and control over the ball, which helps them maintain possession for longer periods.

The more possession they have, the more field space they can control. This gives Tiki-Taka its attacking prowess – an ability to spread out their opponents across the entire playing area while maintaining tight cohesion among teammates.

FC Barcelona Soccer Stadium
FC Barcelona Soccer Stadium

Who Invented Tiki-Taka Soccer?

It is an interesting question to ask who invented the style of soccer called Tiki-Taka. The short answer is that no one person can take credit for inventing this style because several different people and teams have developed it over many years.

La Furia Roja dominated international football with a string of victories using this methodical style of play.

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But where did it originate from? The origins can be found in Dutch “Total Football.” In Total Football, players are required to interchange positions fluidly as part of their strategy.

This helped develop understandings and skills on how to play different roles and maximize player strengths for the benefit of the entire team.

This system also created space for other players to make attacking runs towards the goal while defenders were left momentarily unprotected at times due to their role change during an attack.

Feyenoord against PEC with Johan Cruyff farewell Johan Cruyff on the shoulders of Wijnstekers and Brand
Feyenoord against PEC with Johan Cruyff farewell Johan Cruyff on the shoulders of Wijnstekers and Brand

Who Popularized Tiki-Taka Soccer?

Johan Cryuff

Johan Cryuff is a legend in the world of soccer. He was one of the founding members of Tiki-Taka and the coach for FC Barcelona.

His contribution to Tika-Taka was his ability to control the ball with short, quick passes and movement off the ball.

This style made it difficult for teams to slow down Barca’s attack because they could quickly move upfield and pass again before their opponents could recover back into their defensive position.

Head coach of Bayern Munich Pep Guardiola signals during a UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg match between SL Benfica and FC Bayern Munchen at Estadio da Luz. ○ Soccer Blade

Pep Guardiola

Tiki-Taka is a style of football that has been practiced by teams all over the world but was perfected by FC Barcelona.

Pep Guardiola, who coached Tiki-Taka to success with Barca’s La Masia Youth Academy and then again as head coach for the first team, and then brought it to Bayern Munich.

AMAZING 26 PASS BERNARDO SILVA GOAL | Every player touched the ball! | Utd 0-2 City

The Pep Guardiola era in Barcelona yielded some of the most beautiful football ever seen. His teams played a brand of Tiki-Taka that was exquisite to watch.

It’s no surprise, then, that his coaching style has been so influential around the world. The key to understanding how he perfected this strategy is by understanding its roots in Johan Cruyff’s Dutch “total football.”

Andres Iniesta Leo Messi and Xavi Hernandez offering the FIFA World Player Award to the Barcelona soccer supporters. January 12 2011 in Nou Camp stadium Barcelona Spain. ○ Soccer Blade

Does Barcelona Play Tiki-Taka Soccer?

Barcelona, a historically dominant soccer team with five Champions League titles and eight La Liga titles, is the only club in Europe that has both national and continental success.

They are known for playing Tiki-Taka Soccer, where they keep the ball on defense, attack, and midfield.

In Barcelona, the soccer matches are a spectacle of fluidity and finesse. The players move as one, carrying possession from one side of the field to another.

It is not a coincidence that they play the Tiki-Taka style. Tiki-Taka is has been very successful for Barcelona.


But does this style play the same when they travel to away games? Barca can control the game by keeping possession with quick passes between their players, who are often close together on the field when playing at home.

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This style becomes more challenging to execute when they face teams that sit deeper and use a counter-attack strategy because there is less space available for players to pass into, which leads to many turnovers or lost balls in dangerous areas of the field.

Barcelona has won the UEFA Champions League five times, but they have been accused of not playing real soccer in recent years because their players pass back and forth to each other without shooting very often.

10 Tiki-Taka Goals – FC Barcelona

Does Spain Play Tiki-Taka Soccer?

Tiki-Taka is a style of play that Spain has been practicing for years. The Spanish national team practices Tiki-Taka as their primary soccer style, but many people wonder if they will change to a different style to compete with the rest of the world.

For many years, Spain has been known for its Tiki-Taka style of play in soccer. Yet, in the 2014 World Cup, the Spanish team struggled with this style of play because they could not keep up with other teams like Germany and Chile, who played more direct styles.

Tiki-Taka Overview

Tiki-Taka Soccer is a style of play that relies on attacking and retaining possession as much as possible to maintain control over the match.

It was invented by Johann Cryuff and adopted by the Spanish national team and FC Barcelona to combat their opponents’ abilities to counterattack more efficiently.

While this strategy has been successful for them, implementing it into your own team’s tactics may be difficult because of its extreme reliance on patience and ball movement–which might not suit every player or coach’s playing philosophy.

Tiki-Taka is a successful strategy, but it requires dedication, discipline, and patience.

But if you can implement this with your team, you’ll be rewarded with victory on the field of play. We hope that you’ve enjoyed this introduction to Tiki-Taka Soccer.

8e83cfb63d54c9260fa694b185c6bca8?s=150&d=mp&r=g ○ Soccer Blade
Soccer Analyst and Publisher at Soccer Blade | Soccer Blade

Joel is a seasoned soccer journalist and analyst with many years of experience in the field. Joel specializes in game analysis, player profiles, transfer news, and has a keen eye for the tactical nuances of the game. He played at various levels in the game and coached teams - he is happy to share his insight with you.

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Playing Soccer FAQ

Is soccer a contact sport?

While tackling with excessive force, charging, and striking opponents are illegal in soccer, players often overstep the boundaries. Although this generally results in appropriate sanctions being awarded, it doesn’t prevent significant contact from occurring.

What do soccer teams do at halftime?

At halftime, soccer teams exit the field. They return to their bench area. For youth teams, they may not have a locker room. However, many college and professional teams do head back to the locker room. 
The break is an opportunity for teams to collect themselves. They may talk about what is going well in the game, and what they need to resolve.

How do I join a soccer team?

Attend trials for schools, teams in your local area. If no trials are due, then contact the coach to see if you can join a practice. Search for local soccer teams and try a few to see if it suits your ability and it also needs to be a place that you would enjoy. Scholarships are also available depending on your age, ability, and location. 

Why does a soccer ball curve?

The angle and speed with which the soccer player’s boot strikes the ball determine how far the ball travels. The ball won’t curve or spin if the player hits it right in the middle with their foot following through in a completely straight line.

What are some injuries players get when playing soccer? 

The most common knee and ankle injuries are mild to severe sprains, strains, and tears. Other less common knee and ankle injuries include dislocations and fractures.

What are some ways to pass a soccer ball?

+ Inside foot: Using the area above and inside of the big toe.
+ Outside foot: This creates a spin on the ball to swerve the ball around players
+ The Laces: A powerful volley can be performed with a straight leg swing.
+ Spin: If the toes get underneath the ball with some force you create a backspin.
+ Back heel: Connect the heel with the ball to reverse play.
+ Header: Often used for clearing and shooting, but can be a creative passing move.
+ Body: Use any part of the body to deflect the ball into the path you desire.

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