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The Ultimate Total Football Quiz: Can You Beat the Experts?

Total Football Quiz: How Well Do You Know This Famous Football Philosophy?

If you are a fan of football, you have probably heard of Total Football, a tactical system that revolutionized the game in the 1970s. But how much do you really know about this football philosophy? Do you know who invented it, who played it, and how it works? Do you know how it influenced modern football and what are its challenges in today's game? In this article, we will give you a comprehensive overview of Total Football, its history, its principles, and its legacy. And at the end, we will challenge you to take our Total Football Quiz and see how well you know this famous football philosophy.

total football quiz


Total Football is a tactical system in which any outfield player can take over the role of any other player in a team. It creates a fluid and dynamic style of play that is based on positional interchangeability, high pressing, and possession. It is considered one of the most innovative and influential football philosophies ever.

Although Dutch club Ajax and the Netherlands national team are generally credited with creating this system during the 1970s, there were other teams who had played a similar style before, such as the Austrian Wunderteam of the 1930s, the Hungarian Golden Team of the 1950s, and the Argentine La Maquina of River Plate in the 1940s.

The main teams and players associated with Total Football are Ajax Amsterdam, led by coach Rinus Michels and star player Johan Cruyff; the Netherlands national team, who reached two World Cup finals in 1974 and 1978 with their orange-clad "Clockwork Orange" squad; Barcelona, who adopted elements of Total Football under Cruyff as both player and coach; Bayern Munich, who had several Dutch players who played Total Football; Arsenal, who were influenced by Dutch coach Arsene Wenger; among others.

The History of Total Football

The Origins of Total Football

The first foundations for Total Football were laid by three British coaches who worked in continental Europe in the early 20th century: Jack Reynolds, Hugo Meisl, and Jimmy Hogan. They introduced the concepts of fluid formations, short passing, and ball movement that would later influence Total Football.

Some of the teams that played a similar style of football to Total Football were the Austrian Wunderteam of the 1930s, coached by Meisl and inspired by Hogan; the Hungarian Golden Team of the 1950s, led by Ferenc Puskas and coached by Gusztav Sebes, who was also influenced by Hogan; and the Argentine La Maquina (The Machine) of River Plate in the 1940s, who had a forward line that interchanged positions and played with flair and creativity.

The Rise of Total Football

The team that is widely regarded as the inventor and master of Total Football is Ajax Amsterdam, who dominated European football in the early 1970s. Their coach was Rinus Michels, who had played for Ajax in the 1950s and had learned from Reynolds. Their star player was Johan Cruyff, who was a versatile and visionary playmaker. Together, they transformed Ajax into a powerhouse that won three consecutive European Cups from 1971 to 1973.

The Netherlands national team also adopted Total Football under Michels and Cruyff, and reached two World Cup finals in 1974 and 1978. They dazzled the world with their orange shirts, their fluid movement, their high pressing, and their possession play. They were nicknamed "Clockwork Orange" for their precision and coordination. However, they lost both finals to more pragmatic teams: West Germany in 1974 and Argentina in 1978.

Other teams that played Total Football or were influenced by it include Barcelona, who had Cruyff as both player and coach; Bayern Munich, who had several Dutch players like Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller, and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge; Arsenal, who were coached by Arsene Wenger, a disciple of Michels; among others.

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The Principles of Total Football

Positional Fluidity and Interchangeability

The main characteristic of Total Football is that any outfield player can take over the role of any other player in a team. This means that players are not restricted to a fixed position or role, but can switch places with their teammates depending on the situation. For example, a defender can move up to attack, a midfielder can drop back to defend, a winger can move to the center, etc.

This requires that players are adaptable, intelligent, and technically diverse. They must be able to play in different positions, read the game well, and have a variety of skills such as passing, dribbling, shooting, tackling, etc. They must also have a good understanding and communication with their teammates.

Positional fluidity creates unpredictability and confusion for the opponents. They do not know who to mark or how to defend against a team that is constantly changing shape and roles. It also creates space and opportunities for the attacking team to exploit.

High Pressing and Possession

Another characteristic of Total Football is that players must press the opponents high up the pitch to win the ball back quickly. This means that players must work hard to close down the space and time for the opponents to play. They must also be coordinated and disciplined to avoid leaving gaps behind.

Once they win the ball back, players must keep the ball moving with short passes and triangles. This means that players must always offer support and options for the player with the ball. They must also be accurate and quick with their passes.

High pressing and possession create dominance and control over the game. They prevent the opponents from playing their own game and force them to make mistakes. They also allow the team to dictate the tempo and rhythm of the game.

The Legacy of Total Football

The Influence of Total Football on Modern Football

Total Football has inspired many coaches and teams in the 21st century who have adopted or adapted elements of this football philosophy. Some of them are:

  • Pep Guardiola, who coached Barcelona to unprecedented success with a style based on positional play, high pressing, and possession. He also implemented this style at Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

  • Jurgen Klopp, who coached Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool to win major trophies with a style based on high intensity pressing, fast transitions, and vertical passing. He calls his style "Gegenpressing" or "counter-pressing".

  • Marcelo Bielsa, who coached Athletic Bilbao, Marseille, Leeds United, and the Chile and Argentina national teams with a style based on high energy, positional rotation, and attacking football. He is known as "El Loco" or "The Madman" for his unconventional methods and tactics.

These coaches and teams have shown that Total Football is still relevant and effective in today's football. They have also added their own innovations and variations to the original system.

The Challenges of Total Football in Modern Football

However, Total Football is not without its challenges and limitations in modern football. Some of them are:

Total Football requires a lot of physical and mental effort from the players. They must be fit, disciplined, and focused to play this style of football. They must also be willing to sacrifice their


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