World Cup party already underway before kickoff
By Julian Linden
RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - From Buenos Aires to the Brandenburg Gate, millions of people were getting ready to watch Sunday's World Cup final between Germany and Argentina in Brazil.
In Rio de Janeiro, which is hosting the final, the party was already in full swing, with soccer fans flocking to Copacabana Beach and flooding the city's bars and restaurants ahead of the 3.00 p.m. EDT kickoff.
A massive security operation was in force outside the famous Maracana Stadium - where 10 heads of state were attending the match along with nearly 75,000 fans.
Although the host nation are not playing in the final, Brazil has transformed the event into one massive carnival, with celebrations taking place across the entire country, from the favelas to the Amazon.
A tournament that has exceeded everyone's expectations and been widely deemed to be the best ever World Cup, will reach its climax with a game that has all the makings of a classic between two great European and South American heavyweights.
Germany and Argentina have already played each other in two previous World Cup finals, Argentina winning 3-2 in Mexico City in 1986 and Germany triumphing 1-0 in Rome four years later.
Whether Sunday's game is a high-scoring thriller like 1986 or a defensive chess match as in 1990 remains to be seen, but one thing for sure is that the clash is set up for a battle between the best all-round team and the world's best player.