There have been many legendary games across the entire storied tradition of the World Cup; Germany-England, Italy-West Germany, and, as a recent addition, France-Argentina. Yes, this past World Cup has produced some spectacles to behold. Many World Cups have provided much excitement, but so many of the previous World Cup games have lacked the shine of this prestigious competitions. Games marred by violence, poor conduct, and just overall poor play. This World Cup? Beyond classic. SO many things went into this that made this unpredictable and fun.
For one, so many powerhouses bowed out early. Germany, Mexico, Spain, Portugal, etcetera. That is huge to see football powers disappear into the abyss of elimination. Even larger teams such as Brazil were eliminated early relative to their past performances. Smaller nations came out to play this year; Croatia, Russia, Belgium, and others surprised us this year. Even in the group stages, Iran, Senegal, and Morocco nearly surprised us. Japan quite nearly knocked off one of the aforementioned teams as well. This year was as capricious as it was exciting.
Another aspect of this year that made the World Cup more interesting was how exciting the games were. Japan-Belgium was easily one of the best games I have seen; Japan went up on two phenomenal goals, only to squander the lead in the dying minutes of the game. Sweden-Germany ended on a wonder strike from Kroos. Croatia-Russia went to the death, then to penalties, with each player attempting to give it their all. Even the final was the best of the modern era; six goals, some nice strikes, mistakes, crisp passing, defensive stalwarts, etcetera. A phenomenal set of games.
The narratives that defined the cup, and the subsequent memes, also strengthened my belief that this World Cup was phenomenal. France and the flourishing youth movement in the nation that could (eventually would) carry the team to the finals. England, off the back of an atrocious performance at the Euros, finished fourth and punched above their weight. The giants who could collapse, such as Germany and Brazil, as well as the stunning underdogs, such as Croatia and Belgium. The dark-horses came to define the tournament, and that narrative improved just about everything. The memes were also enjoyable (It's Coming Home? Nah).
Overall, the World Cup electrified a set of nations, disappointed others, and provided an entertaining outlet from this world that is inconstant. From the narratives, to the giants collapsing, and the exciting games providing entertainment for BILLIONS. This isn't even touching on the youngsters, who rode the backs of their nearly impeccable club seasons (well, for many of them), to a place in the roster, and, eventually for some, a World Cup victory. France earned their win off the backs of youngsters who provided new life and rejuvenated the team, as well as the steely veterans who helped provide the team with leadership. Congrats to France.
ALSO, Modric is one of the best midfielders of all time, and he defines this generation.