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Germany joins World Cup favorites to barely survive second round

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The World Cup has held largely to form as the second round draws to a close. But it hasn't been for a lack of trying by World Cup underdog, who just keep suffering heartbreaking defeats no matter how close they come. The latest example was Algeria on June 30, as it took Germany to extra time after 90+ minutes of scoreless play -- yet the goals finally came for Germany in the next 30 minutes.

The Germans' 2-1 victory came when Andre Schuerrle finally broke through in the 92'nd minute, and when Mesut Ozil scored what turned out to be a valuable goal in the 120'th minute. Algeria's injury time goal came too little, too late, as it couldn't even get to penalty kicks.

The Algerians joined a growing group of World Cup underdogs who came close to pulling off massive second round upsets, but found ways to lose. Chile fell in penalty kicks to Brazil to start the round, while Mexico gave away a win to the Netherlands with minutes to spare, and Greece wasted a last-minute regulation goal and a one-man advantage over Costa Rica.

Germany endured despite 90+ minutes of being handcuffed by Algeria's defense. While the Germans have been dominant in stretches of this World Cup -- at least the ones where they faced Portugal and the USA -- they have been shakier against Ghana and Algeria. Despite surviving to reach another World Cup quarterfinal, another effort like this won't do against more highly regarded competition.

In the recent past, this has been where Germany tends to crumble, seeing that it hasn't won this tournament since 1990. With France awaiting in the quarterfinal, and with host Brazil or surging Columbia awaiting the winner, there is no more time for the Germans to wait to work out the kinks.

Despite so many scares in the second round, form has held every time for favorites. But soon enough, the Germans won't be favorites anymore, so this trend will have to break in their favor relatively soon. They have until the Fourth of July to work out how to break the French either way.

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