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Bielsa is a monomaniac who, when not coaching, spends literally all his time holed up in a room watching soccer. He, too, drew inspiration from Dutch soccer, and his teams traditionally play a version of the Cruijffian game. Soon after Josep ""Pep"" Guardiola began coaching Barcelona reserves, he flew down to Argentina, knocked on Bielsa door and sat down and talked to him for 11 hours. It was love at first sight. Pep quickly became all conquering manager of Barcelona first team, and he reportedly took from Bielsa one of the key rules that governs Barcelona play today: the rule."" Whenever Bar loses the ball, they spend five seconds, but only five seconds, chasing to win it back. After five seconds they give up and assume a compact formation.
The rule is another example of how Spain has built a style on foreign borrowing. Guardiola was one of the few Spanish players of his insular generation to go abroad, and he learned invaluable ideas about defending from his seasons in Italy. More recently, the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Xabi Alonso have perfected their passing amid frenzy in the Premier League. Cheap NHL Gregory Campbell jerseys But then they returned to the best league on earth. And so, bit by bit, the Spaniards improved on their Dutch original. In Cruijff game, the players were forever darting into space. In tiki taka, players had less need of space; they just needed to pass perfectly.
Remarkably under Bielsa, tiki taka has conquered even Spain north. Bilbao port has longstanding ties to Britain, and Athletic traditionally favored British long ball soccer. But Bielsa has turned the club into a kind of mini Barcelona. Like Bar he relies heavily on his academy, and he loves short players. On April 8th, Athletic beat Sevilla with a team in which three quarters of the players were drawn from the club own academy the highest percentage of any club in Matt Lindblad jerseys Europe big five leagues that weekend.
Valencia, another of Spain survivors in the Europa League, play a version of tiki taka, too. Their success, and Bilbao is particularly remarkable given how poor these clubs are. In 2010 Valencia debt hit million a strictly notional figure, as it will never be repaid. In part, Spanish clubs are suffering from the national impoverishment. Before the recession, Spaniards worried about a young generation that could never hope to earn more than a month. When I visited Madrid in March, the worry was about a generation that could only dream of earning a month. The current generation of Spanish soccer players know that they are earning fortunes while approximately half their peers are unemployed. Given this tough domestic market, most Spanish clubs are slipping financially ever further behind their English peers.
But clubs like Valencia have an additional problem: Barcelona and Madrid hog an outsized slice of Spanish soccer TV revenues. not a very intelligent way of doing it, Francisco Roca P chief executive of the Spanish professional league, has remarked.
Admittedly it the only way a midsized European country can produce the two richest clubs on earth. But whereas England Premier League shares the money around reasonably fairly, La Liga has become a metaphor for the global economic chasm between rich and poor. By early April, Barcelona and Madrid had already guaranteed themselves the top two places in the Spanish league table for the seventh time in eight seasons; Malaga in third place trailed second place Bar by 25 points. This is the duo longest period of joint dominance in this league already unbalanced history.
Valencia in recent seasons has had to sell David Villa, David Silva and Juan Mata. And yet they and Bilbao, whose self imposed Basqueness practically bars them from buying players at all remain among the world best teams. These clubs cannot draw on the best Spaniards. It barely seems to matter second tier, locally raised Spaniards turn out to be good enough. On the weekend of April 8th, a quarter of the players who appeared in Spain top division had been raised in the academy of their current club. In Italy Serie A, the proportion was 5%, says the CIES Football Observatory. Yet the Italians, for all their buying, had all been knocked out of Europe.
Admittedly Real and Atletico Madrid who complete Spain quintet in European competitions are exceptions to the tiki taka rule. No team of Jose Mourinho is going to pass its way elaborately through midfield. And the Portuguese won put Madrid budding youngsters in the first team. Real and Atletico have kept on buying stars, even though their joint debt is now somewhere over billion. So alluring is today Spanish league that even a great player like Colombian Falcao is willing to join middling Atletico.
But Spanish soccer doesn need Falcao. It Boston Bruins jerseys possibly doesn even need Lionel Messi. Twenty first century Barcelona won its first Champions League without the Argentine, and the various Spanish national teams haven needed him for their many titles. If you have a brilliant system, you don need brilliant individuals. Happy is the land that needs no heroes."