A Video That Perfectly Captures the Beautiful Play of FC Barcelona

Slate's Culture Blog
May 17 2012 1:23 PM

Did You See This? The Beautiful Triangles of FC Barcelona

barca
A still from FC Barcelona's video illustrating the "tiki-taka" style of play

Today brings news that Paul Greengrass—best known for directing two installments of the Bourne franchise—will be making a documentary about FC Barcelona, probably the most widely admired football club in the world. The movie will be called Barça, and, according to the Los Angeles Times, it will “examine the process and legacy” of the club, while also documenting its preparation for the 2012-2013 season; Greengrass, the paper says, “has been given unusual access to the team.” Also encouraging: The editor on board is Chris King, who edited Senna, the Formula One doc praised in Slate by both Dana Stevens and Eric Hynes.

While Greengrass has a lot of ground to cover—the club has been around since 1899, and has employed some of the greatest players in soccer’s history—here’s hoping he finds plenty of time to illustrate just how the team plays. As the video below demonstrates, a fairly simple visual demonstration of the team’s gorgeous style can be riveting. The video focuses on FC Barcelona’s deployment of “tiki-taka,” a style of play that emphasizes maintaining possession through short careful passing. (The name of the style, according to Sports Illustrated, is “a nonsensical onomatopoeia that roughly means touchy-touch or tippy-tappy.”) In order to get in position for these short passes, the members of FC Barcelona gather and re-gather in small triangular formations around their opponents. The video diagrams several such gatherings and demonstrates their effectiveness—to the sound of some nicely chosen piano and strings. Enjoy.

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David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.

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