There’s a craze sweeping men’s football at the moment. Its name is tiki-taka, a tactical system devised to help skillful teams cope with physically dominant opponents. There are those who will tell you that it is nothing less than an evolutionary step for football. These people have seen the tremendous success of the principal exponents of the style (the all-conquering Spanish national side, and Lionel Messi’s Barcelona), and they’ve reached the conclusion that tiki-taka isn’t just another tactical approach to the game; it’s progress.
It’s not progress. It’s actually an old idea, for tiki-taka was invented in 1997 by Matt Groening (or one of his many scriptwriters) in the "Cartridge Family" episode of The Simpsons. In the episode, Mexico and Portugal play an exhibition match in Springfield that is so stultifyingly boring, a riot breaks out between supporters desperate to be the first to leave the stadium. Meanwhile, Kent Brockman calls the on-field action, in what always used to strike me as a wildly inaccurate parody of football, but now seems like an act of eerily prophetic soothsaying.