The World Cup quarterfinals are mostly filled with traditional powers. However, only one match in the round of eight has two World Cup champions facing each other. But while this is technically old hat for Germany and France, both nations haven't lifted the Cup in some time, making their showdown on July 4 all the more crucial.
The French seem to contend in the World Cup every eight years, as they won it in 1998 and were a head-butt away from winning in 2006, but bombed in 2002 and 2010. This time around, France is contending right on schedule, as it has cruised through three wins and a draw in this tournament. In fact, the French were one of the very few squads that weren't pushed to the absolute limit in the second round, beating Nigeria by 2-0.
Germany needed extra time to finally get past Algeria by 2-1, although it had things salted away by the 120'th minute. The Germans have been as dominant as any nation at this World Cup in stretches, like in their blowout over Portugal and their victory over the United States in group play. But in their tie with Ghana and struggle with Algeria, the Germans have been shakier.
To get its first championship since 1990 -- and first since its nation was fully unified -- Germany will need to step up its game. The road is about to get very difficult, especially since the winner of this match may have to take on host Brazil in the semifinals. For Germany or France to win this World Cup, the winner might have to beat three consecutive past champions, if they meet Brazil and Argentina in the final rounds.
It's been 24 years since Germany has had a champion of its own, which is historically dreadful compared to the three titles West Germany won in the past. France isn't as much of a storied power, yet after its 1998 title at home and its infamous near-miss in 2006, the country is starving for another golden trophy.
Suffice to say, if one of these nations takes home another World Cup crown, they will be doing it the hard way from here on in. The Germans and French will start that hard road, as well as the 2014 quarterfinal round, at noon est on ESPN 2.