"La Pausa"

The term La Pausa (pause) is a move and ability to delay by a fraction of a second a pass, waiting for the player the ball is intended to reach to move to the ideal position to receive the pass thus controlling tempo.


Ricardo Bochini, Maradona's idol, became the originator of La Pausa. Players excellent at the move need football intelligence, the ability to visualize and predict behavior of others to make rapid calculations and killer passes.


It also requires a teammate who either makes a quick run so the pass can be executed, or make a movement to open up the space for the pass. 

After Bochini came Maradona, Ortega, Aimar, Riquelme, Messi who all excelled at this particular skill, and eventually Xavi Hernandez.

Xavi had the skill set to execute La Pausa, he had a team that understood the concept of it and players who made the particular movement that was needed.


Often Xavi delayed the play by either slowing a run down or executing another of his signature moves the Xavi 360 turn before making the killer pass.

There are actually many different ways of La Pausa. One is controlling tempo of the game. This is why Xavi's role is different to the typical Argentine enganches. He plays deeper and he can dictate the whole tempo of the game. 

Sometimes in midfield you can create a new situation by doing nothing when you have no option to play the ball forward, instead executing La Pausa means you wait, just long enough so that the opponents come towards you. That often makes a perfect passing lane to play forward into the open space and then you have a good attack.


Most of the time you need a little bit of help from teammates to make that space for you by making a run forward just to take defenders away and thus create a clear passing lane.

It's not just the ability to pass the ball, that's just a tiny part of it. You have to be intelligent and make the right decisions.

One of Xavi's greatest performances was in the Champions League Final v Manchester United at Wembley where he executed La Pausa to set up Pedro's goal.