The World Cup got turned on its head on July 8, thanks to Germany and Brazil. By comparison, the actual winner of the World Cup may be overshadowed in history by how Brazil lost it. But after Germany's 7-1 victory, it still needs an opponent for the actual final, which either Argentina or the Netherlands will give it on July 9.
After Brazilian soccer fans waited for years to see their team win another title at home, their worst nightmare would be to see Argentina make it to the final instead. If that doesn't happen, then this South American World Cup will have two European powers playing each other for the championship.
Like Brazil, Argentina is coming into the semifinals short handed, with Angel Di Maria out due to a thigh injury. Yet unlike Brazil, Argentina still has its greatest superstar in Lionel Messi, although he hasn't scored yet in the knockout stages. If he can change that, the Argentinians have a better chance to make their first final in 24 years -- which would now be against the German team that beat them for the 1990 title.
The World Cup final is old hat for the Netherlands, after getting that far in 2010. Of course, winning the championship is still unfamiliar to the Dutch, as they are the only semifinalist yet to win it all. But since being a five-time champion ultimately did nothing for Brazil, perhaps history will prove meaningless to the Netherlands now.
The Dutch have had quite a bit of luck in the knockout stages, after rallying in the final minutes over Mexico and surviving penalty kicks against Costa Rica. Given that Argentina has pulled out some last-minute rallies of its own in this tournament, this is a semifinal that may come right down to the wire -- unlike the last one.
After the Germany-Brazil match, it is safe to say that anything can happen now in this World Cup. Argentina and the Netherlands have both been a perfect 5-0 so far, but tides can turn without any warning. Perhaps neither of them will lay an egg like Brazil did, but they don't need to get blown out to have their hearts utterly broken -- especially considering how starved they both are to break through.
The Netherlands and Argentina will fight to fill out the World Cup final at 4 p.m. est on ESPN.