And so we reach the knock-out stages. It might have seemed like an intense, pressurised competition already, but now all matches are between two decent teams playing for survival, and the field starts getting thinned out very quickly. I almost feel there should be some kind of ceremony at this point to mark the transition. The groups stages are like an extension of qualifying – you just need to get through them – but now the trophy itself starts feeling like it’s almost within reach. Each match is another step up the mountain, and the air gets thinner, and and everything is sharper and brighter and shinier.
I think I might have exhausted that metaphor now.