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Chris graduated from Georgia State University in 2009 with degrees in Journalism and Creative Writing. He has spent a lot of time working with the media. From engineering radio broadcast for most of Atlanta’s major sports teams to shooting high school football games behind a camera, Chris has a lot of media experience. Besides that, he loves soccer, detective shows, and a buffet list of 'nerdy' things that would embarrass his wife.

Counting Down to the Final of the 2014 World Cup

The month-long spectacle which has been the 2014 World Cup is coming to an end with the Finals set to be played later this weekend. This summer’s tournament has truly been a masterpiece of play, tactics, and excitement from beginning to end. We’ve seen tons of young players—like Origi of Belgium, James Rodriguez of Colombia, and even Deadre Yedlin of America—make their mark on the world stage. We’ve also witnessed tons of heart and gutsy displays from plenty of the teams that appeared in Brazil this year.

Now only two teams remain in contention for hoisting this year’s trophy: Germany and Argentina. These teams met at the last World Cup in South Africa during the Quarter-Finals, where Germany dismantled Argentina and ran out 4-0 winners. The South Americans will be looking to extract their revenge, but it won’t be easy, especially given the way their tournament has gone.

But before I give my predictions for that game, let’s take a moment and look back at all of the amazing drama as it unfolded during the Knockout Stages:

Round of 16: A Story of Missed Chances

If it was difficult to predict the results of the Group Stages, the Round of 16 results were a little more straightforward. The winners of each group were able to advance, but there were certainly plenty of upset scares along the way. However, if there was any purveying theme present during this round, it was that all of the underdogs missed golden opportunities during their respective games.

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You simply can’t miss those…(Image Credit: Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images)

Mexico, for example, had the lead and the run of play against the Dutch. But rather than press on at 1-0, they took off Dos Santos (the goal scorer) and played out the game in a defensive shell. The plan backfired as they fell victim to the power of Wesley Sneijder and the “trickery” of Arjen Robben. Chile also missed a number of chances in regular play and during the PK shootout to knockout a sub-par Brazil. Tournament surprises Algeria also failed to take advantage of a sluggish backline of Germany before falling to the favorites in extra time 2-1.

But perhaps the moment that best illustrated the sheer weight of these missed opportunities came in the 93rd minute of USA vs Belgium. After the historic goalkeeping display from Tim Howard had kept the Americans in the game, Chris Wondolowski was presented with a priceless opportunity to score the game-winner five yards from goal. Instead of burying it, he scuffed his shot wide and Belgium went on to score twice in extra time, ending the American dreams with a 2-1 win.

Quarter-Finals: Too Close To Call

This round proved to be a true test of nerves with each team seemingly desperate not to make the mistake that would knock them out of the finals. But in the end, the teams that went into the game tentatively paid the price. France failed to show any of the cohesion that got them to the Quarters, and bowed out without really troubling Manuel Neuer, Germany’s goalkeeper.

Brazil had two goals come from out of the blue, including a sensational freekick from David Luiz that ended up being the game winner. The hosts have ridden their luck at times this World Cup, and against Colombia they barely held on. In a game that was really hard to watch, there were at least 50 fouls called (and several more that weren’t called), including one that broke the vertebrae of Brazilian talisman Neymar. Really, really hard to watch.

If Belgium were a juggernaut during their game against the USMNT, then against Argentina the Red Devils were pretty tame. Too often were they reduced to long balls and off-target shots. While they were unfortunate to concede, they never looked good enough to turn around the 1-0 deficit. Marc Wilmots has done some great game managing during this tournament, but his persistence in including Fellaini – a player who hadn’t contributed much since the opening game with Algeria – in his squad was really baffling.

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The Dutch called upon Tim Krul for the win in PKs (Image Credit:Paul Hanna/Reuters)

The Dutch had a series of near misses and shots bounce off the crossbar in their match against the Costa Ricans. Their opponents showed a lot of heart, but they had two PKs saved by substitute goalkeeper Tim Krul to seal their fate. In this game, Coach Van Gaal of the Netherlands is showing why Manchester United so readily dumped David Moyes in preference to him this past season. It took some guts to switch keepers right before the shootout, but I think it had more to do with playing mind games with Costa Rica – which, of course,  is right up United’s alley.

Semi-Finals: Fire and Ice

Anybody who thought Brazil would look this bad without Thiago and Neymar is lying to you. Even though Brazil hasn’t impressed defensively (and that’s being generous) at this tournament, I think it’s an understatement to say that Germany’s 7-1 win was from out of left field. However, there was a pretty nice moment when history was made during the game as Miroslav Klose became the World Cup’s all-time leading goalscorer, with 16 goals since 2002.

But if Brazil showed us what happens when your defense fails you, Wednesday’s game featuring the Dutch and Argentina showed us what playing too defensively looks like. The Netherlands couldn’t muster a shot on target until after the half and Argentina (the eventual winners after PKs) couldn’t do much better. But I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise considering how poor both of these teams have been as of late. As a side note, if Van Gaal sets up all of his teams like this in big games, I won’t be watching Chelsea vs Man United this year…

Predicting a Winner

Before the tournament started, I thought Germany was the best team and the most likely winners of the World Cup. My feelings haven’t changed as Argentina simply hasn’t shown enough to convince me that they will dent the German’s hopes. The loss of Angel Di Maria hurt an already meager looking offense for the Argentinians, and Germany looks much better with Lahm in the back and Schwiensteiger in the middle.

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Germany have just been too good (Image Credit: Michael Steele/Getty Images)

While it’s been a memorable tournament up until this point, I don’t think the Final will live up to the amazing games we’ve seen through the earlier rounds. Germany will walk out 3-1 winners in regular time, or PK winners after extra time (and a 0-0 scoreline). They would be the deserved winners; showing guile in attack and organization in defense, and you feel that after their disappointing finishes in the past 3 World Cups that this is simply their year.

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