A world sport such as football often undergoes analysis by many different people and organisations. Trying to understand what makes one team better than another is a task everyone tries to do, and this involves discerning the numerous tactics and play-styles. One such style is the “tiki-taka”, perfected by Barcelona FC and employed by the Spain national team.
Tiki-taka is a tactical play-style that involves quick passing and constantly moving players. The idea is to move the ball quickly between players in triangles and pinning opposition players in the own half. A large part of this tactic is being patient, to keep passing and wait for an opportunity to score a goal. A team can’t score if they don’t even have the ball!
This particular style of football was made famous in Spain, by Barcelona FC. In fact, it was so successful that it was adopted by the Spanish national team and won them many trophies as a result. Not only this, but there are a myriad of documents that attempt to analyse this tactic, in order to replicate it. There are no direct comparisons made between Spanish football styles and Australia, but we can establish which team is better simply by statistics alone.
The only competition the two teams play in together, is the World Cup. Spain has won the world cup and Australia hasn’t. On top of that, the FIFA World ranking rates Spain as the #6 in the world and Australia as #58. It can be easily determined that the Spanish style of football is superior to the Australian style, whatever that may be.
This ethnocentric view however is quickly adopted by many people all over the world, when they compare their own country’s football to Spain’s. Only Spain’s direct competition such as Germany or Argentina may not adopt these ethnocentric views of tiki-taka, and instead analyse their style through a lens of cultural relativity.
When one thinks of ‘Spanish Football’, there are two teams that are known all over the world. FC Barcelona and Real Madrid FC. Outside of Spain, these two teams are essentialised as the whole of spanish football, while other teams within the spanish La Liga are barely known.
People who don’t follow the Spanish Football League will still know of the clash between these two giant clubs; the El Clasico. To most people outside of Spain, the El Clasico is Spanish football. Even though there are 18 other teams within the league, everyone only knows of the fabled match between Barcelona and Madrid.
This essentialism came from a long history between the two clubs, it is not only a football rivalry but a Spanish political rivalry between the cities of Barcelona and Madrid, between Catalonia and Madrid.
Political Banner at the El Clasico.
However this limits the view of Spanish Football. Clubs like Atletico Madrid and Valencia FC are teams that are just as good, however do not possess the same recognition as Barcelona or Real Madrid. Atletico in particular, always being overshadowed by fellow Madrid club Real Madrid.
Growth of new rivalries between clubs is one way of challenging this essentialism of Spanish Football. Showing that there is more to Football in Spain than just Barcelona and Real Madrid, the El Clasico. The Madrid Derby (Real vs Atletico Madrid), the Seville Derby (Real Betis vs Sevilla FC) and the Galician Derby (Celta Vigo vs Deportivo) are just some of the emerging rivalries being recognised worldwide.
The El Clasico unfortunately paints the picture that Spanish football only exists in Madrid and Barcelona, two cities that people will often travel to in order to see matches live. In fact there are a myriad of other cities where you can watch football that is just as exciting, such as Valencia and Sevilla!
However the El Clasico has too much history behind it and meaning for the Spanish people to be quickly overthrown as the face of Spanish Football…
The Santiago Bernabeu Stadium entrance.
Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. The home stadium of Real Madrid Football Club. Opened in 1947 and has a total capacity of 85,454 seats, it is one of the most famous stadiums in Spain. It is a landmark of epic proportions, and represents how massive the club is to the city of Madrid and Spain as a whole.
The inside of the Bernabeu.
The stadium was originally named ‘Campo de Chamartín‘, until it was deemed too small and redeveloped into the Bernabeu. The stadium initially kept it’s old name, but was later renamed to the Santiago Bernabeu in honour of the club president who proposed the new stadium.
The Bernabeu has hosted a plethora of historical matches. This includes 4 European Cups, 4 Champions League Finals as well as the 1982 World Cup. The stadium has been broadcast all over the world and remains a historic and iconic stadium in Madrid, the capital of Spain.
Not only this, but there have also been many footballing legends that have graced the pitch of the Bernabeu. Nearly all of the most famous football players will have at some point played for Real Madrid and called the Bernabeu their home ground. This includes: David Beckham, Ricardo Zamora, Roberto Carlos, Brazilian Ronaldo and Christiano Ronaldo to name a few.
Normally, if one were to visit Madrid, a trip to the Bernabeu is on the list. However it would just be a photo of the empty inside and maybe the entrance, like I’ve shown in this post. What people wouldn’t be able to experience is the atmosphere of a game at the Bernabeu. To watch one of the best football teams in the world play in one of the most prestigious stadiums in the world is in itself a milestone in life.
There are no words to describe what it feels like to be there in person, immersed in the atmosphere that the stadium brings…