It may not have worked for clubs in Europe this season, but possession football could be key in Brazil this summer.
Pep Guardiola burst on to the managerial scene in 2008, taking over Barcelona and leading them to unprecedented success. He guided the Spanish club to 14 trophies in just four years by deploying the ‘Tiki-taka’ style of football.
The essential idea behind this philosophy is to dominate possession in midfield and make the opposition work harder than you, leading them to be physically and mentally drained. You also protect your defence from the opponents’ attacks as you have the ball.
This worked wonders for the four years that Guardiola was at Barcelona. The short and technically gifted players suited this style of play perfectly. Also, as many were Spanish internationals, they were able to emulate this style of football on the international stage, winning the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championships in 2008 and 2012.
However, at club level this style was found out this season as teams preferring the counter-attacking style won the major trophies. For the first time in six years, Barcelona failed to win a trophy and Bayern Munich, now managed by Guardiola, were unable to retain their Champions League title after being knocked out by the fast and direct Real Madrid 5-0 on aggregate in the semi-finals, despite the German giants having 71% possession over the two legs.
Despite the failings at club level, those countries playing 'Tiki-taka' football this summer are likely to succeed in the heat in Brazil. With temperatures exceeding 30 degrees and humidity peaking at 98% in Manaus - where England play Italy on June 14 - there is no better time to make sure you keep the ball. Running after the ball could prove costly in this climate and counter-attacking teams might struggle at the 2014 World Cup finals.
Therefore, don't be surprised if nations try to follow Spain's 'tiki-taka' style this summer.