'The end of tiki-taka' brings the changing face of Barcelona

Spain's World Cup exit has led many to believe that tiki-taka is dead – and Barcelona's evolution suggests it may well be.

Barcelona were in the La Liga title race right up to the final day. A win against Atletico Madrid would hand them the crown yet again, but a 1-1 draw was enough to see the Atleti win the league for the first time since 1996. Second place is hardly cause for crisis talks – right?

Well, not quite. The team underperformed under manager Gerardo Martino, and the Argentine was allowed to leave after just one season in charge. In his place, it's former Barcelona midfielder Luis Enrique who will take the reins after impressign with Celta Vigo.

Now whilst Enrique was the Barcelona B coach and a valued member of Pep Guardiola's staff at the Camp Nou, it seems like the tiki-taka era could be coming to and end – for now at least. Change is afoot, both in personnel and in approach.

The experienced trio of Victor Valdes, Carles Puyol and Xavi Hernandez will no longer feature for the Blaugrana next season. There will be new pillars in place, and maybe even a deviation away from the usual 4-3-3 that Barcelona have used for many years, with a 4-2-3-1 in the pipeline - though expect Alves and Alexis to be replaced in the image shown.

Barca have even allowed Cesc Fabregas – long seen as the heir to Xavi in Catalunya – to leave the club for Chelsea in a £30m deal, replacing him with Sevilla's Croatian star Ivan Rakitic. Yet the biggest sign of change is that Enrique is reportedly looking to sign a true centre forward.

Barcelona have rarely used a No. 9 in recent years, to the point where there wasn't even one in the squad last season. Speculation suggests that there could be a move for Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain – formerly of great rivals Real Madrid – in a bid to land a natural striker.

His friendship with Lionel Messi could of course be the driver for the rumours, but it suggests a new approach under Enrique; a more rounded, bigger side who can compete with the best in Europe once again as football evolves again, away from the tiki-taka style that Barcelona made so famous under Guardiola.

With centre backs certainly still needed, sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta still has plenty of work to do. Yet in this new era for Barcelona, it would be little surprise to see bigger, more athletic players targeted – and after Spain's capitulation in Brazil, they're taking a step that Vicente del Bosque should have taken a long time ago.

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