Death of Tic-Tac?

Welcome back to another edition of Post Up.  Over the last week or so, there has been some relatively shocking games in the World Cup that has seen many bigger nations being defeated by other nations that were deemed “not as good.”  What is the cause of all this and how is soccer changing?


Tic-Tac Soccer



Over the past 4-5 years, there has been a new wave/trend in soccer to play a form of soccer called tic-tac.  Essentially the point of this type of football is to make short and quick passes, a lot.  Not only are you making short and quick passes, but you are passing the ball through numerous channels over and over again until something works.    Along with trying numerous channels to score through, you also need players making many runs and moving everywhere.  Therefore, this makes this type of soccer very fluid.  The big emphasis of tic-tac soccer is to keep possession the entire time you are picking and probing, until it is in the back of the net.

As you can see from the illustration above, this is what tic-tac soccer is.  Iniesta makes a short quick pass to Messi, and immediately is moving and making a run.  Messi passes back to him, and then makes a run of his own.  Iniesta then again passes to Messi and then Messi passes to an already running Villa for a chance on net.  Everything that happens in tic-tac soccer is very quick and short and usually takes a lot of time to develop, but when it happens, it is quick and the results are what you wish for.

Barcelona, Spain, and Bayern Munich are three of biggest teams that have implemented this form of soccer over the past four years, and the results have been outstanding.  Spain was won the World Cup and two Euro Cups, Bayern Munich has won all domestic awards this year (only started using it this year), and Barcelona has won numerous domestic awards along with the UEFA Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup over that time span.  The results showed that this was the future, and many were starting to adopt a variation of it, or the system all together.  Then 2013-2014 happened and people are now questioning it and avoiding it, but why?


Death of Tic-Tac


2013-2014 has been a very bad time for tic-tac soccer enthusiasts and that is because people have finally figured it out.  Bayern Munich may have won all domestic trophies this year, but they were knocked out of the UEFA Champions league by this form of soccer.  Barcelona was destroyed time and again by this form of soccer, both domestically and in the UEFA Champions League.  Finally, everyone is aware of how Spain has struggled mightily this World Cup, to the extent that they have already been eliminated and again it was by the same form of soccer.  The form of soccer that I am referring to is quick and decisive attacking/counter-attacking soccer.

Whether it be Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Netherlands, Chile, etc. they have all figured out that the way to beat tic-tac soccer is to attack it.  The emphasis on tic-tac soccer is possession and therefore, to keep that possession you need all but one or two of your players in the attacking third.  Therefore, if you do not keep possession, you are very vulnerable to the counter-attack.  The other way that tic-tac is beat is by being aggressive offensively.  In tic-tac you have a lot of skilled offensive players, but are more often than not, lack-luster defensively.  Therefore, a team that gains the ball and is going against a tic-tac team needs to attack the other team head-on, with aggression.  Since the tic-tac team is not very good defensively, you will then see channels and opportunities open up before your eyes.

If you do not believe me look at any Barcelona v. Real Madrid game this year, or re-watch Spain’s first two World Cup games.  In both cases the teams that do not use tic-tac, Real Madrid, Netherlands and Chile, have very strong offensive players that are very good on the counter-attack.  From Cristiano Ronaldo, the best counter-attacking player in the world, to Arjen Robben, to Alexis Sanchez, these are all very good, quick, and aggressive offensive players that gave the tic-tac teams massive amounts of trouble and it is from this that we have seen little, to no success this year from teams that use this form of soccer.


Is it Dead?


There is no question about it that tic-tac soccer has been the main reason why we have seen Spain knocked out so early, and the lack of success at the club level for numerous teams, such as Barcelona and Bayern Munich.  Soccer trends come and go all the time, the longevity of those formations and styles though come from the ability to adapt once they have been figured out.  There is no doubt in my mind that tic-tac will still be around and it will adapt, the only question is, how well will it adapt and will it bring back success to those who use it.






Thanks for reading!


All stats and information courtesy of

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