If you didn’t know the result and just looked at the statistics from the Spain versus Switzerland clash you would come to the same conclusion every time. Spain had 63% of the possession, 24 shots, 12 corners and committed 8 fouls. Switzerland had 8 shots, 3 corners and committed 21 fouls. Everything suggests Spain were the dominant side, played the ‘better’ football and won comfortably.
Only Spain didn’t win, they created very few presentable opportunities and from around the 30th minute and onwards the team had a forlorn fatalistic look. Having the majority of possession does not guarantee victory, although it might make it more likely. If tiki-taka doesn’t work, the referee doesn’t help and fortune doesn’t shine then what really matters is the efficiency of the strikers. David Villa, David Silva, Fernando Torres, Andres Iniesta and Jesus Navas all had chances that should in no way be considered presentable, the type where a goal is expected rather then hoped, yet the type of opportunity that should lead to a goal if a team has a genuine conviction of their chances of winning the tournament.
All the tiki-taka in the world, the type of football that Spain and Barcelona play, will not guarantee victory. For all the plaudits that Spain were afforded after Euro 2008 hardly any mentioned the fortune which favoured Spain in their penalty shoot-out against Italy. Spain did win Euro 2008 in style, with wonderful semi-final and final performances, but it all might have counted for nothing had Daniel De Rossi and Antonio Di Natale not missed their penalties for Italy in the quarter finals. Spain did not conquer everybody with their short passing game during that tournament and it is a fact often forgotten. Barcelona too, the connosieurs of tiki-taka, were universally applauded after winning the Champions League in 2009 but they only reached the final courtesy of an awful refereeing performance in the semi-final against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea were denied several obvious penalties, and a dramatic injury time equaliser. Barcelona were fantastic in the final and so much was forgotten, but the Barcelona version of tiki-taka was not all conquering either and Barcelona needed a little something else along the way to help them win the treble.
Tiki-taka is a beautiful style of football but the success of its proponents requires fortune, the odd individual piece of brilliance – which Spain needed against Switzerland but Villa, Silva, Torres, Iniesta and Navas all fluffed their lines – and the occasional helping hand from the referee. Tiki-taka won’t win the World Cup finals by itself, Spain will need a little extra.