Tiki-taka is dead. Or so proclaimed some football pundits after Brazil thumped Spain 3-0 in the final of the 2013 Confederations Cup at the Maracana. Another page or two was added to the obituary when FC Barcelona — the La Liga club that resembles the national team the most and supplies the bulk of its creative talent — was checkmated by rivals, both at home and abroad. Once considered the best passer on the planet, Xavi Hernandez looks a pale shadow of himself. Both Fernando Torres and David Villa are past their sell-by date. So, the defending champions (and the reigning European champions) can kiss the cup goodbye, right? Wrong. La Roja has always been greater than the sum of its parts. In goalkeeper Iker Casillas and centre-backs Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique, the defence looks as solid as ever. Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets are still the best in the business in shielding the back four. And then there is Andres Iniesta, the shy guy who prefers to let his feet to do all the talking. The Spanish midfield will be the envy of every other coach in Brazil. If tiki-taka comes a cropper, coach Vicente del Bosque has the luxury of bringing on Diego Costa to pick the lock. Come 12 July, we might be having that deja vu feeling.




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