Opinion

World awaits 'Cruyff final' when tiki taka meets total football

Barcelona's Lionel Messi (L) and Ajax's Frenkie de Jong Source: Getty Images

A UEFA Champions League final between Lionel Messi's Barcelona and Frenkie de Jong's Ajax would be the product of an unlikely marriage that took place almost half a century ago.

The Spanish club had not won La Liga for 14 years when they decided on a philosophical change of direction in 1971.

The appointment of Ajax coach Rinus Michels would become a master stroke because it changed the club's culture and mentality ... and subsequently its fortunes.

It was the earliest significant link between two clubs that have now won Europe's most important competition nine times between them.

Should Barca and Ajax, as expected, successfully negotiate the second legs of their semi-finals against Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, fans would be presented with a mouth-watering contest in Madrid that will have the enormous shadow of the late Johan Cruyff hanging over it.

The Dutch legend had played a major role in turning Ajax into a super team and would make Barca a hugely popular and successful team after he was given the club reins in 1988.

Cruyff led Barca to four championships and a maiden European Cup in 1992.

Yet he was more about giving Barca a playing style born out of the total football game he promoted with such authority in the 1970s for both club and country than winning trophies.

Winning was never enough for Cruyff the perfectionist: it had to be done in style.

Another Dutch legend, Frank Rijkaard, was only too happy to follow in Cruyff's footsteps and led Barca to two league titles and a Champions League win in 2006 with a style of football to match.

It is no coincidence that Dutch stars such as Johan Neeskens, Ronald Koeman, Marc Overmars, Ronald de Boer, Patrick Kluivert and Edgar Davids fitted into the Barca way with very little effort.

And when the newest reincarnation of the Amsterdam club's famous side of the 1970s will take the field against Spurs to protect a 1-0 lead, fans at large would be forgiven for continuing to draw comparisons with Ajax's great teams of the past.

All season Barcelona-bound de Jong and his band of merry men have played the game with such an amazing belief and fearless approach that it borders on contempt for the opposition.

Their all-action tactics designed to play the game in the opposition's half are an absolute joy to watch and many believe they are even more entertaining than Barca. That's some compliment.

During their run to the semi-finals Ajax have drawn at Bayern Munich and won at Real Madrid, Juventus and Spurs. That's some achievement.

Along with Barca, Ajax have provided the most sophisticated and mesmerising football in this season's competition.

So a 'Cruyff final' between these two highly entertaining sides that promote the most appealing aspects of the beautiful game would not only provide a fitting climax to the European club scene.

It also would be seen as a contemporary version of a classic fusion of two schools of football that were so far apart and yet have become so close.

Tiki taka meets total football, if you like.