MOSCOW — The World Cup has dropped a few hints about its potential winner, but nothing definitive. One thing we do know is that whichever team gets its hands on the trophy, those paws will be bruised and bloodied.
For the World Cup — with eight games and a week-and-change to go — has gotten seriously dirty.
Soccer’s nickname as the “beautiful game” has rarely seemed more tongue-in-cheek than it does now at the end of the round of 16.
For all the sparkling, free-scoring soccer on display in the group stage, things have now become spiky, to the point where England’s second-round victory over Colombia threatened to spill over into open chaos.
It’s not going to get any cleaner from here, not with some of the world’s best players sniffing the potential for a life-changing moment and the chance to secure a permanent place in their nation’s sporting soul.