The 2014 World Cup Final is getting closer by the day, as half of the field has been eliminated. Only 16 teams remain after the end of the group stage.
The knockout round is set to begin on Saturday, and will last just over two weeks. The tournament will conclude with the final match on July 13 at Estádio Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It’s scheduled to start at 3 p.m. ET on ABC.
Neither of the last two World Cup champions have a chance to reach the final. Spain won the tournament in 2010, but was quickly eliminated this year, losing its first two games. Italy claimed the championship in 2006, but they failed to advance past Group D. All they needed was tie in their last game to move on, but they fell to Uruguay 1-0.
Its might be difficult for this year’s tournament to see a first-time winner. Brazil, Argentina, Germany and France are among the favorites to win it all, and each nation has won at least the World Cup at least once in their history. However, nations like the Netherlands, Colombia and Belgium have all been impressive thus far, and never won the tournament.
A European team has never won a World Cup when it's been played in South America. The last time a non-European team won the tournament came in 2002, when Brazil won the tournament for a fifth time.
A host national hasn’t reached the final since 1998. That year, France defeated Brazil for their first World Cup title, 3-0.
Brazil entered the tournament as the favorites, and continue to hold their spot, following two victories in group play. Uruguay won it all when Brazil last hosted the World Cup in 1950, 2-1. The failure to win the World Cup on their home soil has been lamented for decades in the soccer-rich nation.