After nearly a month of play, a staggering amount of goals and one heartbreaking loss for the home country, the 2014 World Cup final is officially set.
Germany secured their berth in the game after dismantling Brazil, 7-1, which left the country shell-shocked, to say the least. Just a day later, Argentina joined them after a slightly closer 0-0 (4-2) victory over the Netherlands.
Fans of the game will rejoice with the final match as one of the best teams in the tournament officially faces one of the sport's biggest superstars. Though Brazil fans certainly hoped to see their team hoist the World Cup trophy at the end of the tournament, they'll now have to hope for a third-place finish over the Dutch.
Here's a look at the updated bracket and scores after Day 28 of the competition:
|July 8||Semifinal||Germany 7, Brazil 1||-||Belo Horizonte|
|July 9||Semifinal||Argentina 0, Netherlands 0 (4-2)||-||Sao Paulo|
|July 12||3rd Place Match||Semifinal Losers||4 p.m.||Brasilia|
|July 13||Final||World Cup Final||3 p.m.||Rio de Janeiro|
Day 28 Recap
Argentina 0, Netherlands 0 (ARG 4-2)
Following a game that saw a total of eight goals scored, it was going to be difficult for any match to equal the offensive output.
Argentina and the Netherlands didn't come close to that number, taking a 0-0 match into extra time before heading to penalty kicks to decide the semifinal. Ultimately, it was Argentina who came away with the win by a 4-2 final in PKs, per Bleacher Report:
Throughout the entire first half, neither side was able to find great scoring chances. While the Netherlands found the back of the net 10 times in the group stage, they have only scored two goals during regulation in the knockout stage.
In fact, Squawka Football notes the Dutch futility during the second half:
Exactly 200 mins now since #NED last scored a World Cup goal.— Squawka Football (@Squawka) July 9, 2014
After a silent first half by both sides, the best scoring opportunity came late in the second half.
Just one minute into stoppage time, the Oranje nearly secured the first goal of the match but came up empty. Arjen Robben had an open chance but couldn't finish, as SportsCenter points out:
Missed chance for the Oranje! Arjen Robben one touch too many, and the shot gets blocked away at the last moment in 91st minute. Scoreless.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 9, 2014
Shortly after Robben's missed opportunity, another prolific scorer was taken off the pitch. Robin van Persie, who was a hero for the Dutch in the group stage, was subbed out in favor of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
Huntelaar notched the game-winner on a late goal against Mexico to put the Netherlands through to the quarterfinals. Van Persie, on the other hand, has been completely shut out since the opening round, as ESPN Stats & Info notes:
On the Argentina side, Lionel Messi hadn't tickled the twine throughout the match either heading into extra time. But he still acted as the leader at the end of regulation, as 101 Great Goals points out:
Who will win the World Cup final?
Neither team scored during extra time, so it would all come down to penalty kicks.
That's when Sergio Romero took over. After stopping Ron Vlaar's shot, Messi put Argentina up for good. Following just four shots for the Argentinians, they would head straight to the World Cup final to face Germany.
Argentina now face a difficult task in Germany, who are coming off a seven-goal match. They will clearly need a much more offensive game heading into the final, but they also have the most talented player in the world on their roster.
Messi vs. the Machine is set, but will it be the best team or player who comes away with the victory? All of that will be decided on Sunday in the final.
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