In six iconic, jaw-dropping minutes, France showed what it's capable of when it loosened the shackles, something that it didn't do–or have to do–en route to capturing a deserved second World Cup title.
There’s arguably never been a World Cup final between two countries with such divergent soccer pedigrees, and there's no telling what Sunday's title bout will hold when France and Croatia end this supremely entertaining and unpredictable competition.
There won't be many secrets when France and Belgium meet in the World Cup semifinals, given the club overlap between the two rosters and the one glaring commonality–Belgium assistant coach and France legend Thierry Henry.
With an all-UEFA semifinal field, Europe will be home to the World Cup champion for an unprecedented fourth straight tournament, and there are a number of factors working in concert at the sport's highest level to make it so.
Gareth Southgate claimed that England was ready should its World Cup come down to penalties, and his young Three Lions proved him right. The players' belief and execution have them going one step further in Russia.
Spain had 75% of the ball and completed a World Cup-record number of passes. But Russia's players defended, fought and grew their legend in front of a grateful home crowd, turning in the most unexpected result of a tournament that continues to mystify.