Facing off for a chance to finish third isn't exactly what you'd call glamorous, especially if it comes a day before the World Cup final. Still, when Uruguay and Germany go head-to-head on Saturday, it'll give both teams a chance to end their World Cup campaigns on a winning note -- and fans the opportunity to see some great players one more time.
What's on the line
A chance to end the tournament with medals in hand. While any World Cup campaign that has reached the semifinals is undoubtedly a successful one, having lost in that last game can leave a sour aftertaste. The third-place game offers a chance at redemption for two sides, Uruguay and Germany, who progressed much further than they were expected to in the days leading up to this tournament.
So for these two underdog teams, this could be much more than a consolation game. It's an opportunity for each team to end a surprisingly deep run on a high note. Offensive sparks have flown in third-place games before. In fact, they almost always do.
Style and tactics
Germany, as we've grown accustomed to, is built around a strong defense -- although left back Jerome Boateng is a weak link -- with a midfield that will leave very little real estate vacant for other teams to jump into its box. But Die Mannschaft now also operates a lightning-quick transition offense with quick wingers and the still-lethal Miroslav Klose up front. That offense is also capable of holding up play, allowing midfielders Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger to control the ball for longer periods of time.
Uruguay's style and tactics are rather straightforward: Hold your shape defensively and try to capitalize on set pieces and shots from distance. This has worked remarkably well because -- and only because -- the team has Diego Forlan, who scored on several scorching shots from afar and takes all of the corners and free kicks with an astonishing level of precision.
Players to watch
Bastian Schweinsteiger, Germany. Schweinsteiger, one of the best players of this World Cup, seems like the sort of man who takes personal and violent offense to losing. The prototypical strong-willed German midfielder that the country has traditionally produced, he could see this game as a last chance to show that this is his tournament and that losing to Spain was merely an aberration.
Luis Suarez, Uruguay. One of the most dangerous young strikers in the game, who has become known for his fierce ambition in the Netherlands, where he has played for the past four seasons, Suarez will look to assert himself in this game and make sure he leaves a lasting impression on the public (and perhaps a big club or two).
What we can expect
Hard to predict, really. Some teams go at this game full-throttle and others use the game as an opportunity to give some bench-warmers a chance to play. It seems more likely, though, that Germany will be hellbent on getting some payback for having crashed out against Spain in the semifinals by defeating another Spanish-speaking team, while Uruguay attempts to take home its first bit of World Cup hardware since 1970.
Both teams were missing key forwards in the semifinals. It was clear just how much Germany and Uruguay missed young strikers Thomas Muller and Suarez, respectively. Without Suarez's heading prowess and versatile finishing skills, the sting came out of Forlan's corners and free kicks. Without Muller as the key switch in Germany's offensive breakaways, the team couldn't land the knockout punch against Spain.
Both players should be back in the lineup. We'll have to see how they help change their sides' fortunes.
Assuming that both teams are fully invested in this game's outcome, Germany is the favorite. The Uruguayans won't have an answer for the Germans' speedy counterattack, while the Germans' defense has enough size and ability to defuse the danger of Suarez and Forlan. Only if Uruguay scores an early goal and forces Germany on the attack for much of the game will the South Americans have a chance to break open this contest and steal a victory.