The years after 2006 were a gesticulation period, waiting for their soccer upheaval to pay dividends. 2014 represented the pinnacle of their planning. This 2016 side was supposed to cement their dominance. World Cup 2018 will be about a legacy of players in their prime attempting to fully realize their potential.
The individual brilliance of the early matches was eventually neutralized by countries with better all-around squads and this was a World Cup that became reasonably predictable once we escaped the group stage. But every single minute was thrilling and worth it.