By Josh SolomonThe final of the World Cup will take place in Brazil on Saturday, and the host nation will be aiming for its first victory in the competition since 1978.
Here’s a look at the four biggest storylines heading into Saturday’s game:1.
Brazil’s hopes are high as the winner of the tournament will have a commanding lead in the final standings with four matches remaining to determine the top seed.
Brazil has won four of its five matches in Brazil, including a 2-0 win against Japan in last year’s semi-finals.
Brazil will be led by captain Luiz Felipe Scolari and his men, with the likes of Carlos Alberto, Giorgio Chiellini, Carlos Alberto and João Moutinho all set to play a major role in their preparations.
Brazil was without injured star David Luiz for the match against Japan, who have won the last two meetings.
The two sides are also in line to meet in the quarterfinals of the competition, with a draw in each contest keeping the top seeds in the hunt.2.
The last match of the round-of-16 round-robin will see Brazil host Japan, with both teams aiming to earn a place in the knockout stages.
Brazil are favourites to win the round of 16, but their chances of reaching the knockout stage are slim to none, with three of the five qualifying groups having failed to reach the knockout phase.
The three other groups are Chile, Peru and Peru (Brazil) with a fifth group set to be announced on Sunday.3.
In addition to Brazil, Peru is also set to face Japan in the last group stage.
Peru is in Group B, while Brazil will face Chile in the other group.
The four remaining groups will be decided by a draw, with Chile facing the winner in the first game.
The second game will be played on Sunday, with Peru hosting the winner.4.
Argentina will also be looking to get a result in Brazil.
The two teams will meet in Group D, with Argentina winning the first two matches of their round-two encounter, with victory secured in the semi-final at home.
The Argentine team have drawn against Chile twice already in the tournament.
The last match for Argentina will be their first match in Brazil after the match in Rio de Janeiro, with Saturday’s match being their first away game since Brazil’s last friendly match.5.
Argentina’s hopes of progressing to the knockout round have been boosted by the return of key players from last year, with striker Paulo Gazzaniga, midfielder Gonzalo Higuain, defender Sergio Aguero and winger James Rodriguez all returning from injury.
The Argentina squad are hoping to take a step forward in Brazil with Gazzantiga, Aguero, Higuaine and Rodriguez all in the squad for Saturday’s clash, but it’s not clear what form the trio will play in the second half of the season.