Tuesday's World Cup semifinal showdown between Brazil and Germany is one for the ages, a dream matchup between what many view as the two best teams in the world.
The pairing is perhaps the most exciting of the tournament, and all eyes will be on Belo Horizonte on Tuesday afternoon when the two teams square off in an epic contest.
Prognosticators and bettors would likely have had Brazil winning the match if it had not lost superstar striker Neymar to a back injury during the team's 2-1 win over Colombia on Monday. Now Germany is the slight favorite, though no one is counting out the home team just yet.
The match seems to be up in the air, but fans can look to World Cup history for some insight into the stakes and possibilities of Tuesday's match.
For starters, Brazil is the only team that has played in every World Cup, and it has the most tournament wins to show for it, with five trophies since the Cup began in 1930, most recently in 2002 -- when it topped Germany. Germany has the third-most Cup wins with three (Italy has four), though it hasn' t notched one since 1990, when it beat Argentina 1-0 in Italy.
Both teams have also lost in World Cup finals. Brazil lost in 1950, at home, to neighboring Uruguay -- a loss so unexpected and devastating that it is to this day the paragon of failure for Brazilians, many of whom consider soccer a religion and the Seleçao, the national team, a sacred icon. It also went down to France in 1998, while Germany has lost four finals (1966, 1982, 1986, 2002).
Though Brazil has won more finals, Germany has actually finished in the World Cup's top four 13 times versus Brazil's 11, despite the fact that Germany did not play in the first Cup in 1930. These long histories on the world's biggest sporting stage demonstrate that both countries have the experience -- and expectation -- of winning it all.
As for their fellow semifinal competitors, Argentina has two World Cup wins, while the Netherlands has zero, though it has lost in the final three times.
More importantly for Tuesday's match, however, is the one past instance in which Brazil and Germany met in the World Cup final. Despite the fact that the two teams are soccer powerhouses, they only met in the final once, in 2002, when Brazil beat Germany 2-0 in Yokohama, Japan.
Brazil had the inimitable Ronaldo at the time, and he was able to give his home country two goals in the second half, bringing his World Cup total to eight, the most that year. The Germans couldn't match the Brazilian striker's prodigious talent, nor that of the opposing captain Cafu, and went down scoreless.
This year, the Brazilians are unexpectedly without their best player in Neymar, so the Germans may have the chance to pull off a win Tuesday, which would propel them to their first final since Japan, in the home country of the team that bested them there, no less.
As such, the fan bases of both Germany and Brazil are as fired up as they've been in years, and both teams are looking to make a statement. Whoever wins on Tuesday will have a chance to add another notch to their belts, and to make a statement about who is the real powerhouse at this exciting time in World Cup history.