AC Milan played tiki-taka football long before Barcelona, according to the Rossoneri’s former center half Alessandro Nesta.
The Sony Team Ambassador for Italy was not surprised to see the Cesare Prandelli’s team employing quick-passing tactics in their victory over England in Manaus on Saturday, adding: “Tiki-taka is perceived as a Catalan invention, but I’ve seen many teams in Italy play tiki-taka style in my career, even before Barcelona.
“I remember playing for AC Milan with a midfield composed of Rui Costa, Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf and Rino Gattuso, where we played this style of possession football. Many people say the Spanish are masters of tiki-taka now, but we arrived first.”
The former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson used to wax lyrical about Barcelona’s “passing carousel”. Spain’s era of dominance that has brought successive European Championships and a World Cup has largely been based on the same approach.
Nesta, who won two Serie A titles playing for AC Milan and one with Lazio, thinks Italian football has been inaccurately branded as too defensive. “We still have this misconception that Italian football is all about counterattack and catenaccio (teams defending deep),” he said. “But to be honest I witnessed this kind of football more frequently abroad than in Italy.”