Sorry for the late reply. I was watching with great interest!
FIFA World Cups are really the only sporting events I ever watch. More people watch the World Cup than the Olympic Games, which makes soccer is the most popular voluntary cultural phenomenon in the world.
I particularly enjoyed this one, as I was born in Moscow, although I haven’t been back to Russia since I was 10. Soccer has always been the most popular sport in Russia by far. Russia has obviously changed a great deal, but it is now often getting a lot more negativity than it deserves. Putin is far from perfect, but Russia did voluntarily move away from Communism, and almost without bloodshed. After once being on par with North Korea, Russia’s Economic Freedom Ranking is now (despite sanctions) ahead of the other BRICS countries and other former Soviet countries like Ukraine. Finally hosting a FIFA tournament is sort of like Russia’s debutante ball for international tourism, and I really enjoyed watching hundreds of YouTube videos of Russians getting along great and partying with soccer fans from all over the world.
Some of the games totally defied expectations, like the German implosion, Russia beating much stronger Spain, Japan’s surprise but fleeting lead over Belgium, and tiny Croatia making it all the way to the final.
Félicitations à la France! Bonne réussite!