And then there were two. One final game will decide who will hoist the golden trophy and forever etch their mark into the record books. Brazil and Netherlands were just a win away from advancing to the championship game but fell in the semi-finals. In the third-place game yesterday, Holland easily buried Brazil 3-0, handing Brazil yet another crushing defeat in front of their home fans. Since losing Neymar to a vertebra injury in the quarterfinals match against Colombia, Brazil has conceded 10 goals and only scored one.
Germany v. Argentina
Germany's path to the finals has been pretty breathtaking. They advanced out of the proclaimed "Group of Death" with a route over a very tough Portugal team, a tie against Ghana and a narrow victory over the United States. Their stardom was tested in the Round of 16, when Algeria played them into extra time but the fire power of the Germans staved off the will of the Algerians and advanced with a 2-1 victory. They were then put up against a talented and deep French team, but managed to squeeze out a 1-0 win after an 8th minute header from Mats Hummels. And then came the slaughter, which saw floodgates pour on Brazil and all their glory goal after goal after goal (x7) saw the host country embarrassed by Germany's domination.
Argentina as a whole had a lot of expectations to be successful in the Cup but one man bore all the pressure and weight of the country: Lionel Messi. And he has delivered brilliance in flashes for the undefeated Argentines thus far. Placed in a relatively easy Group, Argentina unconvincingly swept the teams with one goal wins over Bosnia, Iran and Nigeria. In the Round of 16, it took every second of extra time as Angel Di Maria delivered the latest game-winning goal in World Cup history with a 118th rip to send Switzerland home. There was a little less drama in the quarters as Higuain scored the game-winner in the 8th minute and the score held 1-0 over Belgium. It took a brilliant performance from keeper Romero to send the team to the finals, as he had two blockbuster saves against the Netherlands in penalty kicks.
It's easy to sit back and suggest Germany will win the Cup because of the display they put on against Brazil, but Argentina stands a strong chance. The combination of Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria and Sergio Aguero heading counter-attacks is volatile and if Germany fails to recover like they did in the sole goal conceded against Brazil, they could be in for a long night. The midfield of Germany is second to none with the world class play of Mesut Ozil, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos and Sami Khedira and don't forget they have the probable Gold Glove winner Manuel Neuer between the posts.
Players to watch
Germany: No. 13 Thomas Muller
Argentina: No. 10 Lionel Messi