From 32 to two. Two remain to battle it out for the right to be called the best in the world for the next four years.
The Netherlands and Spain will have it out on Sunday for the World Cup title. Along with Brazil, The Dutch and the Spaniards were the favorites heading into the tournament a month ago, so it is no big shocker these two teams are the last standing.
The Netherlands have had a smoother ride to the title game. They have barely missed a step in the six games leading up to the final. They have won all six matches they have played in the tournament, and have looked far and away the better club in every game.
They capped off the wonderful play by getting past a determined Uruguay team 3-2 on Tuesday to earn their ticket to the final.
It was anyone's game at the half, the score tied 1-1. But the Netherlands came out strong in the second half and a Wesley Sneijder goal in the 70th minute following several minutes of sustained pressure put the Dutch ahead for good. Arjen Robben added a goal in the 73rd minute to make it 3-1.
Uruguay made it interesting with a stoppage time goal and then some pressure right at the death, but the Netherlands were through to their third trip to the World Cup finals. They lost the final in both 1974 (to West Germany) and 1978 (to Argentina).
Sneijder's goal was his fifth of the tournament, tying him with David Villa for the World Cup lead. It also tied a Dutch record for goals scored in a single World Cup.
"This is unforgettable," Sneijder said after the game. "It was a tough fight and toward the end we complicated matters.
"Sunday we play in the World Cup final. I have to get used to that."
Netherlands manager Bert van Marwijk echoed Sneijder's thoughts.
"This is very special," he said. "After 32 years we play the final again. Such a small country. We can be very proud of this."
Spain comes in off a tough, hard fought victory over Germany put them in the finals. The World Cup started off rather dubiously for the highly ranked Spanish, with a shocking 0-1 defeat to Switzerland.
However, since that opening game loss, Spain is 5-0 and playing well. Although they didn't play a terribly inspired game in the quarterfinals in defeating Paraguay 1-0, they did enough to get by.
They played a strong game versus Germany. They were able to hold possession for 57 percent of the time and out shoot the Germans 16 to six.
The winning goal came in the 73rd minute on a beautiful header by defender Carles Puyol off a corner.
For Spain, it will be their first ever trip to the final.
"This is one of the greatest moments for Spain," said Spain's David Villa. "And we want to make more history in the final."
The Netherlands success in this tournament has been in their attacking mode. One thing they were sure to have taken notice of in their semifinal with Uruguay, was that they can not let off the gas pedal. Once they scored the opening goal of the match they seemed to relax, which is exactly what let Uruguay back into the game.
They will not be able to do this against the likes of Spain. It will be interesting to see who will be able to control the ball in the midfield. One would think Spain would hold the edge in this battle. It will be crucial for Spain to control the midfield and get their forwards as many chances as possible. But Spain, normally a great passing team, has been struggling with the passing accuracy of late.
The Netherlands forwards are playing at an extremely high level and figure to once again get scoring chances. Arjen Robben and Sneijder are almost unstoppable right now.
The deciding factor in this game may be who holds up strongest in the back. If Spain can duplicate the effort they had in the back against Germany, they will be hosting the trophy. But, this will be a tall task indeed.
The final will played in Johannesburg on Sunday. This title match has guaranteed a first-time winner, as neither country has won the World Cup before.
Prediction: Netherlands 2, Spain 1.