DEBATE: Will Pep Guardiola’s Tiki Taka System Work In England?


Pep Guardiola is arguably one of the best managers in the world, everyone seems to agree apart from the English press who believe that he will struggle in the Premier League. And according to them the English league is tougher than the other leagues, and they also believe that Guardiola always inherits good teams, and they believe that Guardiola was able to dominate (La Liga & Bundesliga) because they are easy leagues according to them. I covered this in Part I of my article which you can read here.

Does Guardiola always get good teams?

When Pep began his managerial career he started off by managing the Barcelona B team, under him the team managed to win Tercera Division and qualified for the 2008 Segunda B play-offs which they also managed to win, as a result he managed to help the team gain promotion. Joan Laporte decided to appoint him as the first team coach, what people need to now understand is, especially the English press, is Guardiola took over a Barcelona team that had not won the La Liga in the last two seasons, and to be fair Barcelona was in ruins. Guardiola addressed the defensive issues by bringing in players like Daniel Alves, Gerard Pique & Martin Caceres, he also managed to sign Seydou Keita an intelligent holding midfielder who ended up understanding his tactics, he also promoted some of the youth players like Pedro, Sergio B & Jeffren Suarez. Fortunately Guardiola went on and won the sextuple (La Liga, Copa Del Ray, Spanish Super Cup, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup & Club World Cup). He’s the youngest manager to ever win the UEFA Champions League. Honestly the only squad Guardiola inherited that has an excellent team was FC Bayern, the Manchester City team that he is inheriting isn’t a good squad compared to Bayern there are some issues he still needs to solve.

Has the TiKi Taka system made the La Liga & Bundesliga less competitive?


Since Guardiola took over Barcelona and introduced the Tiki Taka, the Los Cules have managed to win the league on five occasions they won it three times with him and it was won two times by other managers who used the same system. Thanks to the Tiki Taka system Barcelona have managed to seize off most of their opponents by beating them 5-0, 6-0, 7-0 and they only started winning by those margins when this system was introduced. Even when Guardiola left the late Tito Vilanova and Luis Enrique continued to use the style of play to full effect. Under this system even Spain managed to benefit from it as they have managed to dominated European amd International football with it, but notice that when Guardiola took over FC Bayern, Germany benefited from it and Spain became weak for a time. Before Guardiola took over Bayern, Jupp Heynckes had won everything that there is to win in the Bundesliga but prior to that, Bundesliga was competitive with Dortmund and Wolfsburg in the mix. When Guardiola took over Bayern in 2013/2014 season he introduced the Tiki Taka system and just the same way Barcelona used to seize off there opponents in La Liga, FC Bayern started to do the same winning by large margins:
(4-0 vs Schalke)
(4-1 vs Mainz)
(3-0 vs Augsburg)
(3-0 vs BVB)
(7-0 vs Werder Bremen)
(5-0 vs Frankfurt)
(4-0 vs Freiburg)
(4-0 vs Hannover 96)
(5-1 vs Schalke)
(6-1 vs Wolfsburg)
Guardiola managed to win the league in March, making FC Bayern the first team ever in the Bundesliga to win the league in March. In the 2014/2015 season Bayern won the league in April. If this Tiki Taka system has managed to make Bayern & Barcelona strong in their respective leagues what makes you think it won’t work in England. For the past 10 years Premier League has only been won by three teams Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea, Guardiola won’t have any problems winning as a matter of fact he will dominate it.

Will Pep Ever Win The UCL With Manchester City or FC Bayern by using this system?

La Liga has always been about passing and keeping the ball, which it is up to this day, Guardiola only managed to upgrade it massively. However this system might not work against Spanish teams in the UCL. When Guardiola took over Bayern he guided them to the UCL semi final and they lost against Real Madrid, Spanish opposition (5-0 on aggregate). Last season he lost against another Spanish team again this time against Barcelona (5-3) on aggregate. He tried to beat them at their own game which didn’t work. Guardiola now uses the (3-4-2-1) mixing it with the Tiki Taka, the formation he’s trying out is an Italian system from the Serie A & in order for the system to function properly you need no nonsense old school center backs Guardiola in this case only has Benatia, you also need an anchor man for this system to function & wing backs as well, Guardiola has wing backs an even an anchor man in the shape of Javi Martinez but he plays him out of position. Reason why this formation worked for Juventus is because they had old school defenders ( Barzagli, Bonucci, Chielini) and excellent wing backs (Lichsteiner, Evra, Asamoah and new signing Alex Sandro) until up to today its working for them. FC Bayern could face elimination in the round of 16 of the UCL if they go play with 3 defenders against Juventus, because they are trying a system which is designed in Italy. With him taking over Manchester City only way he can win the UCL with them is if he manages to avoid a Spanish team (Atleti, Real & Barcelona).

Has The Tiki Taka False 9 System Benefited or Ruined Some Players ?

This system was largely in charge for the rise of the following players:

1. Leo Messi


The false 9 system lead to the rise of Leo as he managed to go on a goal scoring spree for Barcelona but for Argentina he struggles
Messi’s stats under Guardiola for Barcelona
(STATS ESPN) in all competitions:
2008/2009 38 goals & 16 assists in 41 starts
2009/2010 43 goals & 10 assists in 45 starts
2010/2011 50 goals & 21 assists in 47 starts
2011/2012 71 goals & 22 assists in 55 starts

Vs Messi’s stats for Argentina
2008/2009 4 goals & 2 assists in 13 starts

2009/2010 4 goals & 1 assist in 12 starts

2010/2011 1 goal & 1 assist in 8 starts

2011/2012 4 goals & 4 assists in 13 starts

Looking at Messi’s international record vs his club record he needs the Tiki Taka system to be the best. He has accomplished everything with Barcelona but hasn’t accomplished anything with Argentina in order for him to be considered as truly great, he needs to win something with Argentina (Copa America or World Cup). However with the amount of talented players (Di Maria, Dybala, Aguero, Augusto Fernandez, Ever Banega, Higuain, Icardi, Javier Pastore & Angel Correa) Argentina possesses at the moment, perhaps it’s only matter of time before they start winning trophies.

2. Thomas Muller

Before Guardiola took over Bayern the highest goal tally Mr Muller has ever achieved in a season was 21 goals but when Guardiola took over in 2013/2014 season Muller managed 26 goals & 12 assists in 43 starts while last season he managed 21 goals & 14 assists in 43 starts, however with the current season still going on Muller has managed 22 goals & 9 assists in 26 starts (Stats ESPN) and under Guardiola he has also managed to become the youngest player to reach 50 wins in the UCL.

3. Robert Lewandowski


It took him 4 seasons at Borussia Dortmund to achieve 102 goals well at Bayern it only took him one and a half seasons to score 56 goals. So far this season only Luis Suarez and Pierre Aubameyang have managed to score more goals than him.

Players who never benefited from this style of play:

1. Zlatan Ibrahimovic


No player hates Pep like Ibra, because Guardiola wanted to use him wide in order to accommodate Messi, which is ridiculous because Ibrahimovic is an out and out center forward not a wide player. As a result Ibrahimovic managed to end the season with this record 21 goals & 9 assists in 35 starts for Barcelona. Ibrahimovic has admitted that he almost fought Guardiola.

2. Jerome Boateng

Before Guardiola joined Bayern Boateng was really really a top notch defender, however when the Tiki Taka system was introduced this system has some how managed to make Jerome a lazy and inconsistent defender. There are games where Boateng shows us he’s one of the best defenders and than there are other games where he’s one of the world’s worst defenders. Under this system it seems Jerome wants to be more on the ball than actually defend, which is huge risk for Bayern.

3. Philip Lahm

To be honest Lahm’s best position is at right back, under that position Lahm has established himself as one of the best right backs in the history of football. However when Guardiola took over he decided to convert him into a holding midfielder, at first it seemed to be a brilliant idea however as the season was rolling by it seems to be a bad idea. On the ball Lahm looks really great but off the ball Lahm looks lost he can’t read the game properly in the middle of the park and it is easy to run through Bayern’s midfield. If you notice last season Bayern managed to suffer heavy defeats against Barcelona (3-0) Wolfsburg (4-1) and Gladbach (2-0) because they managed to expose the weaknesses it was easy for Rakitic (Barcelona), Max Arnold (Wolfsburg) and Xhaka (Gladbach) to out muscle Bayern in the midfield.

4. Toni Kroos


In Jupp’s final season at Bayern Kroos was a number 10 a position his been playing all his life and he was arguably one of Bayern’s best players before he suffered that nasty injury against Juventus. However when Pep took over he decided to use him in a defensive midfield role, a role he pretty much didn’t like that’s why he joined Real Madrid. However Real Madrid are using him as a defensive midfielder also, which is a disadvantage to them because Real Madrid now has a huge hole in their midfield because Kroos isn’t a defensive midfielder. If you watch the Real Madrid games they played against Barcelona, Valencia, Sevilla & even recently against Granada notice that they have been overpowered in midfield.

5. Javi Martinez

He was signed to close the wounds which Bayern had, which he successfully did which was needed to make Bayern the best team in the world, he was key to Bayern winning everything. There was even a saying which was designed in Germany that ‘If you want to go through Bayern you need to get past Javi Martinez’. However Guardiola has managed to open up those old wounds that were closed by Jupp, by playing him as a centre back or keeping him on the bench.



By Tuta Ilonga, Spainsh football expert on 14/02/2016 at 23:25 (Updated on 22/02/2016)


One response to “DEBATE: Will Pep Guardiola’s Tiki Taka System Work In England?

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