July 11, 2014, 8:55 a.m.View more articles
This weekend, the 20th FIFA World Cup will draw to a close. For the last month, a global audience of over 3 billion people watched 32 teams get whittled down to just two: Germany and Argentina, who will meet at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro to determine which of them is the 2014 World Cup champions. It will be the third time these two teams have played each other in a World Cup final - in 1986, Diego Maradona led Argentina to victory, and four years later it was Germany turn to lift the trophy.
This time, Germany are the favourites to win, after a remarkable semi-final that saw host nation Brazil lose by 7 goals to 1. As Germany's goals flew in, multiple records were set. When Miroslav Klose put his team 2-0 up in the 23rd minute, he became the World Cup's all-time record goal scorer - snatching the title away from previous holder Ronaldo, who played for Brazil in the 1998, 2002 and 2006 tournaments. With three more goals hitting the net over the next 6 minutes, Germany also set a new record for the fastest four goals ever scored in a World Cup match. And as well as being the highest scoreline of any semi-final ever, the final result bumped Germany to the top of the leader board for overall number of World Cup goals, bringing their tally to 223.
For Brazil, the loss was devastating. Beforehand, their confidence had been knocked by the loss of two star players (captain Thiago Silva, suspended because of yellow cards received in previous games; and striker Neymar, who was forced to leave the tournament early after sustaining a back injury in the quarter final), and once the goals started being scored, defeat seemed certain. Ultimately, it was their worst ever result at home, and the biggest defeat ever suffered by a host nation. Fans made their displeasure clear by booing the team off at half-time. By the time the final whistle was blown, many had already exited the stadium.
In sharp contrast, Argentina's route to the final came from a goal-less semi-final against Netherlands. After 120 minutes of play, neither side had managed to score, forcing the game to penalties - and after a couple of key saves by goalkeeper Sergio Romero, Argentina emerged victorious.
Now, Germany and Argentina must prepare, both physically and psychologically, for the tournament's final challenge. Will Germany repeat their semi-final performance and claim their fourth World Cup victory? Or will Argentina take the trophy home for a third time? Either way, it's sure to be a nail-biting end to an exciting World Cup!
Watch Winning and Losing to discover how biology can impact who wins and who loses.