What is Tiki Taka in Soccer? Everything You Need to Know

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Written by Daniel Pena, Bachelors in Kinesiology and footballer: Learn More

What does the phrase “Tiki Taka” in soccer mean? In the beautiful game’s history, tiki Taka is a playing style that was popularized by iconic teams such as Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona and Vicente Del Bosque’s Spanish National Team.

The intricate passing, the relentless possession of the ball, the understanding of knowing where to be, the tiki taka style is one that is very hard to perform, but once performed correctly it is nearly impossible to stop. In this blog, I will cover everything you need to know about the famous tiki-taka playing style.

Tiki Taka in Soccer

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What is the Tiki Taka Style of Play?

Tiki-taka is a tactical style of play that involves passing the ball quickly with short precise passes, keeping possession of the ball, and knowing how to move as a team to find the empty spaces. Unlike traditional strategies that often resort to long passes, direct attacks, or counter attacks, tiki-taka focuses on short yet precise passes to move the ball around the opposing team.

The objective here isn’t just keeping possession but creating opportunities through swift ball movements while reducing chances for opponents to intercept.

Who Invented Tiki Taka?

Most soccer fans, players, and coaches would agree that Pep Guardiola is generally credited for creating tiki-taka, however Pep Guardiola himself claims he is not a big fan of tiki-taka and that he never made his teams play this way.

Here are some quotes by the legendary manager about tiki taka. Even with these statements, the soccer world will always credit Pep Guardiola for his influence on tiki taka, weather he likes it or not.

  • “I loathe all that passing for the sake of it, all that tiki-taka. It’s so much rubbish and has no purpose”
  • “You have to pass the ball with a clear intention, with the aim of making it into the opposition’s goal. It’s not about passing for the sake of it.”
  • “Barca didn’t do tiki-taka! It’s completely made up!”

The Evolution of Tiki-Taka

Understanding the evolution of Tiki-Taka requires a journey back to its roots in the 1980s and 1990s. Although most people would generally credit Pep Guardiola for his influence on popularizing tiki-taka, it is important to mention the influence that Johan Cruyff had on this style of play.

Johan Cruyff’s total football approach which was used by Ajax and the Netherlands National team was similar to that of tiki-taka and had a huge impact on its evolution. Total football focused more on the fluidity of the team and player’s being able to change positions seamlessly, rather than focusing on short quick passes, but it paved the way for Pep Guardiola’s tiki taka.

After his playing career, Johan Cruyff became the manager of Barcelona and Pep Guardioala was one of his students that resonated a lot with the style of play that Cruyff wanted the team to play. In the early 2000s, FC Barcelona witnessed another significant transformation but now under Pep Guardiola as the manager.

Having been mentored by Cruyff at La Masia – Barcelona’s renowned youth academy – he had developed a deep appreciation for possession-based football. This understanding led him to refine these principles further, giving birth to what we now recognize as Tiki-Taka soccer.

Legendary Figures of Tiki Taka Soccer

Over the years, a handful of significant individuals, from coaches to players, have shaped the realm of tiki-taka soccer, each leaving their unique imprint on this specific style of play.

  • Pep Guardiola- Manager of the legendary FC Barcelona from 2008 to 2012
  • Johan Cruyff- Had a huge influence coaching Pep Guardiola as a youth player
  • Lionel Messi – Part of the legendary Barcelona team
  • Xavi Hernandez- Part of both the legendary Barcelona team and Spain’s golden generation
  • Andres Iniesta- Part of both the legendary Barcelona team and Spain’s golden generation

Tiki Taka in Soccer Image by Source

Frequently Asked Questions

When did Tiki Taka begin?

Tiki Taka began with Pep Guardiola’s legendary Barcelona team. Pep’s Barcelona played tiki taka better than anyone else because they had the right players across all positions on the field such as Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, and Xavi.

When was the golden generation of Spain’s football?

The golden generation of the Spanish national team, often referred to as “La Roja” by spanish fans, was from 2008 to 2012. During this time period, Spain’s success included:

  • Winners of the 2008 EURO Championship tournament
  • Winners of the 2010 FIFA World Cup Tournament
  • Winners of the 2012 EURO Championship tournament

This is one of the most impressive eras, with three major trophies, for any European team. This Spanish side is considered by many as the best team from Europe and possibly in the World of all time.

Who was Andres Montes?

Andres Montes is a late spanish broadcaster who helped popularize the phrase “Tiki Taka.”


In conclusion, the concept of tiki taka was popularized by Pep Guardiola and was mastered by many of his teams, including Barcelona, and later on in his career with Bayern Munchen and Manchester city. Tiki taka is a style of play that involves quick one and two touch passing, understanding space and moving as a team, as well as keeping possession of the ball.

In this blog, I covered all the basic information you need to know about a very common and popular soccer term, tiki taka.

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