Two matches remain at the 2014 World Cup, and they'll have to be instant classics to live up to the previous 62.
Simply put, the action in Brazil has been outstanding—with comebacks galore and goals aplenty. But ever since the knockout stage came around, the cream has risen to the top—resulting in a European giant facing a South American team with both hoping to achieve glory.
That's not all, however, as a third-place game will also decide who will join those two on the podium.
Here's a look at the complete schedule for the rest of the World Cup:
|Sat., July 12||4 p.m.||ESPN||Brasilia|
|Sun., July 13||3 p.m.||ABC||Rio de Janeiro|
Final: Germany vs. Argentina
One side has a national team hardened by past defeat and hungry to add a world championship to its golden generation. The other has its own golden star looking to add an important trophy to his all-time great collection. It's between Germany and Argentina for the 2014 World Cup.
As the month of play in Brazil has worn on, it's become more and more inevitable that the Germans would get here. They easily won the "group of death," then pulled through close tests against Algeria and France before absolutely smashing Brazil, 7-1, in the semifinal.
Argentina haven't been nearly as dominant in their run to the final, but they have been impressive nonetheless.
Lionel Messi scored four times in the group stage but has gone cold. Still, the Argentines have failed to give up a goal in three elimination matches—an incredible streak—and tightened things up to get past Switzerland, Belgium and the Netherlands.
Sunday's match will clash together two of the best defenses in the world. Both faced question marks but have stood tall.
ESPN's Ian Darke thinks that recent form bodes well for Germany:
History says Argentina. Form here says Germany .— Ian Darke (@IanDarke) July 10, 2014
The Mirror's John Cross is among those picking Germany:
Fancy Germany big time to blow the whole "European team has never won here" thing out of the water. Better squad than Argentina. #worldcup— John Cross (@johncrossmirror) July 9, 2014
Messi could etch his name among the all-time greats with a World Cup triumph in Brazil, there's really no doubt about that. But it will be easier said than done against the Germans.
Joachim Low's side looked dominant against Brazil. If they play anything close to that level against Argentina, the Albiceleste will likely have no chance.
Still, the Argentines are playing leaps and bounds better defense than the host nation. Germany will be hard-pressed to score once, much less seven times.
A fourth World Cup title seems inevitable for Germany, but Messi and Argentina will have their say.
Third-Place Match: Brazil vs. Netherlands
Brazil and the Netherlands were both crushed by emotionally draining semifinal defeats, but they will have to shake off any lingering pain quickly—there's more football to play.
The hosts will take to the pitch one last time in their home World Cup, with a third-place medal up for grabs for the victors.
It will be tough for the Brazilian players to get up for the match after their rough defeat to Germany. Giving up seven goals wasn't the way Brazil expected to go out, much less having to play a consolation game after it.
There are no fans feeling worse than the hosts, but the Dutch are up—or down—there after their semifinal defeat to Argentina. It went all the way to penalty kicks after a handful of Netherlands chances went wide in the final minutes.
Getting up to play Saturday's match won't be easy, as told by Tyler Duffy of The Big Lead:
And Brazil and the Netherlands still have to take the field again. Brutal.— Tyler Duffy (@tyduffy) July 9, 2014
It might not be easy to take to the pitch again after coming so close to achieving glory for their countries, but these players have a great opportunity to leave a lasting impression on this World Cup, and they can't take it for granted.
The difference between third and fourth place is huge, as it decides how your side will be remembered in the World Cup. Brazil can either be defined by their 7-1 loss to Germany, or they can bounce back and go out as winners.
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