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4-0. July 3, 2010. FIFA World Cup Quarterfinals. Germany and Argentina in Cape Town, South Africa. We turned up for a football match. We witnessed a massacre. Four years and 10 days later, the re-match. This time its for the FIFA World Cup. I could have sworn I witnessed the future World Cup winners that day. I just wouldnt have thought they would have had to wait four long years for the chance to be crowned World Champions. Germany was that good. Argentina was not even close in any facet of the game. German midfield dominance, well-worked goals, straightforward finishes and Lionel Messi was a ghost. The better team beat the best player that day. There is very little reason to believe the script will be flipped Sunday. The Maracana is an appropriate venue for a Germany-Argentina re-match as such. Few are backing Argentinas chances, and rightfully so. Likewise, few considered Uruguay worthy challengers to Brazil in the 1950 World Cup final; the last World Cup hosted by Brazil and last final at the Maracana. Uruguay shocked the world that day. 1-0 was the final. Argentina will look to do the same, which would deliver a similar blow to their rival, Brazil. Winning a World Cup on Brazilian soil while the natives exposed as fraudulent tournament contenders would cast an even deeper cut to the already gaping wounds felt by the nation. Brazilian support of Germany will be popular amidst the sea of blue and white that has descended upon Rio. Other than venue, what has changed in four years since the German demolition of Argentina in Cape Town? Many will argue Argentina has a better team make-up and proper tactical leadership under head coach Alejandro Sabella. The team plays much better defensive football, having not conceding since the group stage. Messi is the star and has done the heavy lifting. Javier Mascherano has been a pain in the butt (pardon the pun) proving his worth as a standout defensive midfielder. Goalkeeper Sergio Romero has made timely saves, namely against Iran helping set the stage for Messis late magic. The rest of the team has been surprisingly average considering they have not trailed in the competition. You can only beat whom you play. Theres no question Argentina has had the easiest road to Rio. If Angel Di Maria (thigh) is fit to play, which is a serious question mark, six starters will return from the Argentina XI that was embarrassed in 2010. No Di Maria would be a significant loss, as the winger serves as the best link to Messi, opening up space and adding much needed pace and quality down the wings. Sabella has no ready-made replacement for Di Maria – a worry among many for the Argentine tactician. As collective, its indisputable this team is better than the 2010 edition. They are even better than they were on June 15 when they started their Brazilian adventure at the Maracana against Bosnia and Herzegovina. Sabella switched from a 3-5-2 he started the tournament to a more traditional 4-3-3, with Messi dropping deep from time to time to get more involved in the play. The shape has been better, and has been good enough to grind out results, but two goals in the knockout rounds doesnt flatter. Belgian Coach Marc Wilmots called Argentina ordinary after defeat in the round of 16. Although this assessment is a little harsh, it would be difficult to find reason to shower the South Americans with praise either. Hope remains an improved performance has been saved for the grandest of stages. And theres always a chance the four-time Ballon dOr winner can dig deep to unleash some more of his special, game-changing kind of magic. But other than that, there is very little reason to believe Argentina will truly concern the German powerhouse. Reaching for historical arguments such as no European team has ever won a World Cup in the Americas fails to hold water. More recent evidence is more poignant than an antiquated argument from previous eras when travel and continental exposure of players was much more limited. Bottom-line is this World Cup is Germanys to lose, not Argentinas to win. What has changed for Germany in four years? They have become better as a team and their main challenger, Spain, is long gone at this tournament. Germany has been the best team at this World Cup and its hardly an argument. Bigger picture, if it were not for Spains dominance over the last six years, we would be discussing German success as glowingly as we do the tiki-taka. Success has come through familiarity and shared adversity. Glory hasnt come easy for Die Mannschaft in recent years, but the fruits of their labour, patience and cultivation of a collective identity are about to be rewarded. I flew to Durban a few days after Germanys masterclass against Argentina in 2010 for the semi-final against Spain. Just as they schooled Argentina earlier that week, Germany was taught a footballing lesson that day, being made look to be second-class citizens in a 1-0 loss. The gap in quality and performance was much greater than the scoreline. Spain dominated the ball and Germany couldnt touch it. There wasnt even a chance to unleash their daunted and exceptionally clinical counter-attack. Carles Puyols goal in the 73rd minute signaled No Mas. It was a thorough beating, one not to be forgotten. Nor was lesson taught by Spain in the EURO 2008 final in Vienna. It was also a 1-0 scoreline, but Germany only managed one shot on target. The disappointment in 2010 was ever more painful because the sizeable gap in finished product between nations remained. It may have been a younger German team in South Africa, but that didnt matter. The bar had been set and Germany again failed to clear it. Frustration continued into 2012, with this time Italy proving too difficult to breakdown in a 2-1 semi-final loss. Close, but not there yet. Germany didnt panic. Joachim Loew remained as head coach, a position he has held since 2006. Patience has been exercised as a young, talented, and unified generation of German footballers has been ushered through the system. It starts at the developmental level. Neuer, Howedes, Boateng, Hummels, Khedira, and Ozil all started for the 2009 UEFA European U-21 Championship side. They have grown and moved into the senior ranks together. Nine players, including five of the aforementioned names, which beat Argentina in 2010, will start Sunday. There will be eight returning starting players from the setback in Warsaw two years ago. Its remarkable consistency for a country with plenty of tactical and positional options. And it breeds success. The familiarity comes at the club level as well. Six players who will start in the World Cup final were also part of the Bayern Munich team who suffered home heartache in the Champions League final against Chelsea in 2012. They were clearly the better side on home soil at the Allianz Arena that day. Penalties undid them. Another lesson well taken. A year later, disappointment turned to elation with a Champions League final victory at Wembley over fellow German side Borussia Dortmund. A culture of winning, cultivated. The learning curve continued this month in Brazil. A late injury to Marco Reus during pre-tournament preparations meant a change of thought. Mario Gotze was the preferred replacement. The decision to start Philipp Lahm in central midfield was also made, rather than having the captain as menace in a freelance right-back role. After getting off to a flier in a 4-0 victory over 10-man Portugal, the plaudits became muted after three unspectacular performances against Ghana, the United States and Algeria. Germany looked particularly unimpressive against the latter, with the North Africans taking them to extra time before being disposed. The back four was flat, slow and flawed. And a more direct approach in attack was required to get the most out of all the superior movement off the ball. A tournament-ending injury to the average Shkodran Mustafi forced Loews hand, finally deploying Lahm at right back. The dominant three-headed midfield of Schweinsteiger, Kroos, and Khedira was re-united. And the lone remaining player from Germanys 2002 World Cup final appearance, Miroslav Klose entered the starting XI, preferred over Gotze, to hold the high line. Each move worked to perfection. Germany out-classed a previously impressive France team before running all over hosts Brazil in a shock 7-1 result. Klose set a new record for World Cup goals (16) along the way, and the more youthful Thomas Muller, 24, scored his fifth of the tournament, and 10th overall in World Cup play. The questionable backline has looked rocked solid with Mats Hummels leading the line. And no goalkeeper has looked more composed, confident and positionally sound than the impeccable Manuel Neuer. We can talk up individual performances all we like. We tend to do that in sports. Its an easier conversation to have. But in truth, this German team is better discussed as a sum of all parts. There is exceptional balance in the current team. Typical German football traits of size, strength and efficiency are all plain to see. Its the imaginative, football intelligence side thats much more impressive. One needs look no further than Germanys first goal of the tournament. The Germans overloaded on the Portuguese left side with exceptional movement in and out of space. Superb one-touch football where movement off the ball is as important as the touches on it led to defender Joao Pereira having little choice than to take Muller down in the box for a penalty. Find weakness and expose it. The theme of superior football intelligence, movement and collective understanding has carried over to where we are today. This all coming from a team with an average age of 25.9: a young squad, yet so experienced. Its easy to criticize Brazils defensive frailties in the embarrassing semi-final loss. But credit must not be taken away from Germanys ability to move forward in numbers with pace and purpose. For example, Kroos typical sits back and provides service from deep positions. That wasnt the case early against Brazil, with Kroos getting in more advanced positions down the left, often-times further up field than Mesut Ozil. Its the relentlessness and understanding of their waves of attack that make this team special. This has less to do with individual quality than it does mutual understanding about the way they play and personal responsibility within the system. We are witness currently to a special generation of German footballers, not that this is anything new. No country has made more World Cup semi-finals (12) than the Germans. The most recent unprecedented run of form (four World Cup semi-finals in a row) is the latest testament to a superior football philosophy and internal development. The only thing missing is a major title. Sunday is their best chance. The World Cup Trophy and a fourth World title is within reach. Germany is the better team, and the better team should beat the better player. Just like in Cape Town in 2010. This is Germanys World Cup to win. They can only beat themselves. Not this time. Not this team. . Kerr said he had dinner with Jackson, his former coach with Chicago and the new Knicks team president, on Friday night and they talked again Saturday. Kerr is in New York to work the game between the Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors for TNT. . "I knew it was gone. I mean, I felt it," the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year said. "I havent felt like that in a while. I havent got extension on a ball in a pretty long time. http://www.goldenknightsproshop.com/aut ... ts-jersey/. Al Horford said all he had to do was make the catch near the basket and then shoot a soft jumper. . The team also announced Tuesday that the Braves will wear a commemorative patch on the right sleeve during the season. The patch, shaped like home plate, carries the number 715, Aarons autograph and a "40th Anniversary" banner. Orchard Park, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Marcus Thigpen had a punt return for a touchdown and Dan Carpenter hit four field goals as the Buffalo Bills pulled off a 21-13 win over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. Kyle Orton went just 14-for-27 for 158 yards with an interception, while Fred Jackson added 71 yards on 20 carries for the Bills (8-6), who have won three of their last four games and also finished 4-0 against the NFC North this season. Buffalo was able to keep pace in the hunt for a wild card spot, and got some help thanks to losses by Miami and Houston. Pittsburgh and Baltimore currently hold the wild card spots with nine wins apiece. Aaron Rodgers had his worst game of the year, as he was a paltry 17-for-42 for 185 yards with two interceptions, along with a fumble on his final possession that turned into a safety. The Packers (10-4) had a five-game winning streak stopped and saw their lead in the NFC North trimmed to just one-half game over Detroit. The Lions are currently hosting the Vikings, and should they win, will have control of the division for the time being. Buffalo started the second half with the ball and the game tied, but took the lead on a 51-yard field goal from Carpenter. Anthony Dixon was able to convert a pair of short third downs on the drive. After forcing a Green Bay punt, the Bills got the ball back at their own 22 and the first snap saw Jackson go for 13 yards. Bryce Brown caught a short pass and took it 40 yards down to the Green Bay 19. The drive stalled there, though, and Carpenter hit a 35-yard field goal for a 16-10 advantage with 4:18 left in the third. The Bills then pulled off a big turnover, as Bacarri Rambo picked off Rodgers. However, they were unable to take advantage and had to punt. Once again, though, it was Rambo coming up with the big play as he again picked off Rodgers to give his team the ball back near midfield and that led to a 48-yard field goal from Carpenter for a nine-point lead with 9:23 to play. Green Bay was able to answer on its ensuing touch, as Rodgers guided his team on a 10-play, 66-yard drive that Mason Crosby finished with a 34-yard field goal to make it 19-13 with 4:51 to play. The Packers eventually forced a punt and gott the ball back at their own 10 inside the two-minute warning.dddddddddddd On the first play, though, Mario Williams was able to rush around the corner and stripped the ball out of Rodgers hands, and the ball fell into the end zone where Eddie Lacy picked it up. By rule, though, the ball was dead as soon as Lacy touched it and the Bills were awarded a safety, and Orton went into the victory formation after the team got the ball back. The first four possessions ended in punts before Green Bay was able to put points on the board on its third touch. Rodgers converted a 3rd-and-8 with a 19-yard scramble, which turned out to be the biggest gain of the drive. Crosby booted a 45-yard field goal to give the team a 3-0 lead with 4:27 to play in the first quarter. Buffalo then had to punt and Green Bay was forced to a three-and-out, but the Bills special teams came up with a big play. Thigpen fielded the ball at the 25 and cut it back to the left, racing down the sideline then cutting back right to get into the end zone for a 75-yard score and a 7-3 lead. Lacys first three carries on Green Bays next drive went for 15, 17, and 22 yards. An 11-yard catch from Randall Cobb down to the Buffalo 1 set up Lacys bull rush into the end zone for a 10-7 lead less than a minute into the second quarter. The Bills came right back to tie the game as a 10-play, 71-yard drive was finished on a 27-yard field goal from Carpenter with 8:04 to play in the first half. Crosby lined up for a 53-yard field goal attempt on the Packers next possession, but Williams was able to get a hand on the ball. Game Notes Rodgers had just three interceptions coming into the game, and it was his first interception in 203 pass attempts ... Lacy totaled 97 yards on 15 carries ... Buffalo leads the series with Green Bay, 8-4, and has never lost to the Packers in Orchard Park ... Buffalo controlled the ball for nearly 33 minutes ... The Bills finished the home portion of their season with a 5-3 mark, and play games in Oakland and New England to finish the regular season ... Green Bay plays at Tampa Bay next, before a home matchup with Detroit to close the regular season. ' ' '