To be sure, this new spirit of adventure isn’t without its drawbacks. What these teams gain in attacking edge they sometimes sacrifice in defensive fortitude.
With eight teams left at the most wide open World Cup in recent memory, predicting the winner in Russia is as risky as a double vodka at breakfast. But as the tournament heads into the quarterfinals, one thing is now certain: International soccer’s era of possession football is over.
Eight years since Spain won the World Cup by turning the sport’s toughest matches into a game of playground keepaway, and four years since Germany dominated the ball on its way to lifting the trophy in Brazil, the last three weeks in Russia have shown how far — and how fast — the game has evolved.