When describing the game that he dedicated his life to, English soccer great Gary Lineker authored an honest and poetic description of the sport-but with a warning.
His famous quote reads, "Football is a simple game. Twenty two men chase a ball for ninety minutes, and at the end, the Germans always win."
Lineker's jest has been thrown around with regularity over the past few weeks of World Cup action in Brazil, and with good reason.
Argentina’s Lionel Messi will face the toughest test of his career on Sunday against Germany.
After championing the Group of Death with a dominating 1-0 victory over the United States, Germany is now primed to take home its fourth Cup and steal the limelight away from the the greatest player in the world.
At 3 p.m., Sunday, Lionel Messi will step onto the pitch in Rio de Janeiro in hopes of achieving the only honor that is still missing from his legendary career-a World Cup for Argentina.
But before he can do so, the Argentinian will have to defy history, the odds and Lineker's caveat against a team that shocked the entire world by throttling Brazil on its home soil.
Sunday's match will pit the best player in the world against what is now clearly the best team, with global bragging rights on the line.
This year's final is already drawing some strange allegiances from fans across the world, and it seems as though the Germans could have one of the loudest cheering sections in World Cup history.
Despite the fact that Brazil was embarrassed, repeatedly during its 7-1 semifinal loss, we could end up seeing plenty of fans wearing green and yellow cheering for Germany.
The lines that divide soccer loyalty at the Cup tend to be drawn continentally, with some of the fiercest rivalries coming within South America.
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Even though they just got shellacked by Germany, Brazilian fans will have to live through the next four years in Argentina's shadow if Messi finally hoists his missing trophy.
They definitely do not want that to happen.
Deutschland has also seen a wave of support from Colombian fans, who were ecstatic to see Brazil fall in epic fashion after being knocked out by their rivals, 2-1, in the quarterfinals.
The small contingent of fans still watching soccer from the United States will also throw the weight of their support behind Germany, considering the close meeting that decided group play and Jurgen Klinsmann's coaching success.
The only team that really has an axe to grind with Germany would be France after losing 1-0 in the quarterfinals, but I can think of a few other reasons that the French might not jump on the German bandwagon along with everyone else.
All in all it is safe to say that Argentina will enter the finals as a serious underdog, on paper and in the hearts of fans.
Like Lebron James playing in the NBA Finals with Cleveland, Argentina will have to hope that one amazing player is enough to offset a roster full of veteran talent.
If Argentina wants a shot at winning its third Cup, it may have to play for penalty kicks the way it did on Wednesday against Holland, and hope that its defense can withstand Germany's offensive talent.
I don't see that plan working.
The best offensive player in Brazil this year has been Germany's Thomas Muller, and he's not the kind of player that you can shut down with double teams.
Miroslav Klose, Sami Khedira and Toni Kroos have all been playing technically perfect in the attacking zone, and will give Argentina a much tougher defensive test than the Netherlands did.
The Germans also have the benefit of goaltender Manuel Neuer, who had seven saves (including a few brilliant stops) in drubbing Brazil and five against the French.
Positive stereotypes have turned out to be true this year for the Germans, who have played with more poise and efficiency than any other squad.
It will take a historic effort from Messi and his teammates to take the Cup back to Argentina, but, then again, he is a historic player.