As mentioned up-thread, I think the quality of the "rest of the (footballing) world", the so called minnows, has improved infinitely. With the exception of Germany and Spain, I don't see any significant drop in quality of any of the established footballing nations this WC, quite the contrary - just look at England for example - the quality of play is much higher than any previous tournament; passing game on the ground, completed passes, set piece execution. Long ball, hit-and-hope is thankfully a distant memory.Going to go out on a bit of a ledge: how much genuine quality have we seen in this World Cup? We've seen lots of entertaining games, lots of drama, but while there have been a few impressive performances it feels like we haven't seen teams or players consistently show their quality.
Could be wrong, I always forget stuff, but was just musing on it this morning and struggling to think of any.
imo it's because football is reaching a plateau of peak quality internationally that we're seeing more entertaining games with lots of drama.
So, I'd turn your point around and say that impressive performances stand out less and the crap performances stand out more(see Germany / Spain)
*eta; don't forget the quality of defending in the games with less drama - Sweden, Switzerland & Uruguay... a very high quality of defending