The 2014 World Cup comes down to a final match that pits the planet’s best player, Lionel Messi, against the tournament’s best team, Germany.

The game will define careers, cement legacies and be watched by a global audience of about a billion viewers.

For Messi, it’s a chance to firmly make his case for being one of the greatest ever to play the world’s most popular game. For Germany, it’s an opportunity to make up for a number of near-misses over the last decade and re-establish itself as the dominant force in international football.

How they got here: Germany stunned a nation with its 7-1 drubbing of host Brazil in the semifinals. Argentina eked out a penalty shootout win over the Netherlands following a 0-0 draw.

History: Germany has won three World Cup titles, the last one in 1990 when West Germany beat (guess who?) Argentina. It lost in the final in 2002. Four years before losing in the 1990 final, Argentina became world champion for the second time, beating (guess who?) West Germany.

Star watch: Messi scored four goals in the three group games but is on a three-game scoring drought in the knockout stages. Germany’s Miroslav Klose scored his record 16th World Cup goal against Brazil.

Did you know? No European team has won a World Cup in the Americas.

The quote: “I don’t want to lose another final. I want to lift the cup.” — Klose.

Third-place match: The Netherlands beat host Brazil 3-0 on Saturday in Brasilia to finish a World Cup unbeaten in regular play for the first time. Injured Brazilian star Neymar watched from the bench.

associated press