The 2014 World Cup's knockout stages have only just begun; however, we've already seen a bevy of matches come down to the wire and produce thrilling finishes.
Monday's contest between Germany and Algeria was no different.
Although the Germans were heavily favored in the contest, the team didn't receive good news about defender Mats Hummels prior to the match, via Cristian Nyari of Bleacher Report:
#GER Update: Mats Hummels will miss today's game against Algeria due to a fever. Stayed at the hotel.Mustafi will likely replace him.— Cristian Nyari (@Cnyari) June 30, 2014
Early in the game, the Algerians were the aggressors. Germany's defense appeared sluggish—perhaps missing the presence of Hummels—and was caught off-guard on several occasions.
One specific mishap was this unusual defensive tactic from goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, courtesy of Bleacher Report UK:
After that scare, Germany continued to look flustered under Algeria's offensive onslaught. Many chances kept coming for the Algerians, but they continued to just miss finding the back of the net.
On one occasion, it briefly appeared as though they scored, but the call was offside. Here's a look at the close call, courtesy of World Soccer Talk:
Finally near the end of the half, the Germans found a bit of offense.
Although, Algerian goalkeeper Rais M'Bolhi was there waiting. He made back-to-back brilliant saves against Toni Kroos and Mario Goetze to keep Germany off the board. Take a look:
We entered the second half scoreless.
The same struggles that plagued Germany in the early first half reared their ugly heads after the break. Take a look at this passing chart, courtesy of Squawka Football:
This trend continued over the remainder of the half for the Germans. They were able to maintain a vast majority of the possession but couldn't manage to get much done inside Algeria's zone.
Meanwhile, although Algeria's attempts were limited, it was able to find some open looks against Germany; however, the team was plagued once again by poor final balls.
As regulation time came to a close, Squawka Football reflected on the Algerian keeper's amazing performance to that point in the match:
So, like many games before, we headed into extra time.
Well, it didn't take long for the game to shift dramatically. After 90 minutes of scoreless action, Andre Schuerrle finally put Germany on the board in the 92nd minute with this brilliant little flick:
Just like that, the favorites looked like the favorites once more.
The second half of extra time rolled around with the Germans leading 1-0 and Algeria desperately looking for the equalizer.
Another goal would come, but it was from the Germans once again.
In the 120th minute, Mesut Ozil drilled a rebound of a Schuerrle shot right into the back of the net, all but ending Algeria's chances of evening the match. Here's a look at the strike:
VINE: Goal by Özil http://t.co/YyXjyEkhJS— World Cup 2014 (@PostWorldCup) June 30, 2014
With the match pretty much in the books for Germany, Algeria continued to fight—something the team should be highly commended for.
Just a minute after Ozil's goal, Abdelmoumene Djabou finally put one in for the Algerians, making the final score 2-1 in Germany's favor.
After the match Schuerrle spoke of his goal and his team's upcoming contest against France with ZDF, via Miles Chambers of Goal.com:
Obviously we wanted to win the match earlier. But Algeria did well, they pressured us from the beginning. I scored almost the exact same goal in Mainz three weeks ago. So I am capable of it, but of course I had a little luck.
We had many chances in the last 10 minutes of the 90, but we missed them. Now we are at the quarter-finals. We need to relax, and then play France.
The Germans will need to rethink their early-match tactics against a French team capable of scoring on a moment's notice. Like Germany, France notched two late-match goals against a strong Nigerian team to advance to the quarterfinals.
This ensuing matchup has all the implications of becoming one for the ages when these two world football juggernauts collide.