Skip to main content

Barcelona's 'tiki-taka' reign at an end?

updated 6:35 PM EDT, Sat September 21, 2013
Barcelona's hat-trick hero Pedro Rodriguez (R) celebrates with Lionel Messi after scoring the opening goal against Rayo Vallecano.
Barcelona's hat-trick hero Pedro Rodriguez (R) celebrates with Lionel Messi after scoring the opening goal against Rayo Vallecano.
  • Pedro scores hat-trick as Barcelona's 100% La Liga run continues
  • Cesc Fabregas also scores in Saturday's 4-0 victory over Rayo Vallecano
  • Struggling home team edges possession to end Barca's long-running stat
  • Gerardo Martino's team top on goal difference from Atletico Madrid

(CNN) -- For the first time in over five years, a run of more than 300 competitive matches, Barcelona had less possession than the opposition.

For this to happen against an also-ran in the Spanish league was some surprise, but for Gerardo Martino it was no big deal.

After all, the Barca team that he took charge of in July still notched a fifth successive La Liga win, beating Rayo Vallecano 4-0 on Saturday as Pedro grabbed a hat-trick.

But it does herald a change in approach for a team whose intricate style of "Tiki-taka" passing has made it one of the most successful clubs in world football -- a success mirrored and surpassed on the international stage by Spain.

The numbers weren't startlingly one-sided -- Barca had 49% of the ball compared to the home side's 51% -- but it was a big drop from the stats so customary under the guidance of previous coaches Josep Guardiola and Tito Vilanova.

Read: Messi matches Ronaldo's Euro hat-trick

Martino, however, is his own man -- and he is trying to put in place a "Plan B" when in the past it looked like the reigning Spanish champion had none.

"Rayo pressed us and they made it difficult to play short passes. We had the alternative to play long and at times you have to do this in these types of matches in order reach other parts of the field," the Argentine said.

"I really liked the team in the second half. We didn't have defensive errors and, like the match against Ajax, we improved over the course of the match. We have the capacity to score a lot of goals."

Pedro was the main beneficiary of Barca's firepower, being set up by midweek hat-trick hero Lionel Messi, Cesc Fabregas and then Neymar to take his league tally to five this season.

Fabregas wrapped it up in the 80th minute with a sumptuous strike, but keeper Victor Valdes also made a vital contribution against second-bottom Vallecano as he saved a first-half penalty soon after Pedro's opener.

"Valdes is playing at a fantastic level and all I can do is enjoy it as his manager. He had decisive saves and he saved a penalty," Martino said.

The win put Barca top on goal difference, as Atletico Madrid also notched a fifth straight win in Saturday's late match.

Second-half goals from Raul Garcia and Diego Costa earned a 2-0 victory at Real Valladolid, putting the top two teams five points clear ahead of Sunday's games -- when Real Madrid hosts Getafe and Villarreal travels to Celta Vigo.

In Saturday's other games, Malaga drew 0-0 at Real Sociedad and Levante came from two goals down to earn a 2-2 draw at Almeria after the home side had Cristian Fernandez sent off for two bookings in a minute.

In Italy, Chievo moved out of the bottom three with a 2-1 win at home to Udinese, while struggling Sampdoria snatched a 2-2 draw at Cagliari in which three of the goals came in the final four minutes.

Genoa and Livorno drew 0-0 in the other game played Saturday.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:23 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
After 20 years, more than 300 goals and a host of major honors, Thierry Henry has called time on his glittering football career.
updated 5:14 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
They do things differently at Sociedad Deportiva Eibar, up in the mist-cloaked valleys of the Basque country. And it is working.
updated 8:53 AM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
He might be struggling to score goals for Liverpool, but Mario Balotelli's cheeky tweet about the British monarch hit the spot during the World Cup.
updated 8:53 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
How Real Madrid's new stadium will look
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
updated 9:48 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
A man as a Roman centurion and who earn his living by posing with tourists gestures in front of the Colosseum during a protest where some of his colleagues climbed on the monument on April 12, 2012 in Rome. The costumed centurions are asking for the right to work there after they were banned following a decision by local authorities.
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
updated 12:22 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
updated 10:11 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
updated 2:19 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
updated 8:47 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
updated 6:34 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
A football fan wipes a tear after Inter Milan's Argentinian defender Javier Zanetti has greeted fans following the announcement of his retirement before the start of the Italian seria A football match Inter Milan vs Lazio, on May 10, 2014, in San Siro Stadium In Milan
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
updated 6:41 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Fri October 10, 2014
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
updated 9:28 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.