This is the 10th World Cup to feature the penalty shootout rule. Time for a little number-crunching...
There will be those who don't want the fun to end after 90 minutes on Sunday.
Not just because they can't face a life without the World Cup, but because extra-time piles on even more drama: it adds excitement to a win, and gives something of a reason for defeat ("If only our lads hadn't tired in extra-time…"). And as for penalties…
The penalty shootout was introduced to the World Cup in 1978, although none were needed until 1982. The first shootout was the "Battiston" semi-final between West Germany and France in 1982; at that point, the Germans had lost their only previous shootout, in the Euro 76 final to Panenka's legendary chipped shot.
But they learnt quickly and haven't lost one since: they beat France, and then Mexico in the 1986 quarter-final, England in the 1990 semi-final, and Sunday's opponents Argentina in the 2006 quarter-final.
That remains the Albiceleste's only World Cup shootout defeat. The last time they reached the World Cup final, at Italia 90, it was via two shootout wins - they beat Yugoslavia in the quarters and the hosts in the semis - and they also despatched England in the France 98 second round.
And shootout suss is an increasingly important part of tournament football. Of the 20 semi-finals since 1978, five (25%) have gone to penalties - and once it goes over 90 minutes, it's almost sure to go the full distance: the only semi in that time to been settled in extra-time was Italy's late double-whammy against Germany in 2006.
The chance of a shootout is even higher in the quarter-finals - 13 of the 40 have gone to extra-time and of those 13, 11 have gone to penalties. But at least the chance of penalties recedes in the final: four of the nine finals since 1978 have gone beyond 90 minutes, but only two have been decided by The Lottery Of A Shootout.
A little bit extra
Hang on, though - four finals in the last nine have gone into extra-time? That means we're in with a good chance of some additional action on Sunday night. And both teams will be confident they can overcome in overtime.
Not only are Argentina good at penalties, they're good in extra-time too. That shootout defeat to Germany in 2006 remains the only time they have lost a World Cup game that has gone beyond 90 minutes, since the rules changed in 1978. And in that time they've been in that situation more than any other team: eight times in 10 tournaments, which is effectively eight in nine considering they went out in the groups in 2002.
Mind you, the Germans are also good in overtime. In that post-1978 era they have won five of their six extended fixtures, only losing that 2006 semi to Italy. At the other extreme, the Dutch are fairly awful in the extra period: since 1978 they have lost four of their five, the exception being when Tim Krul beat Costa Rica.
As a side note, if this final does go long, that means Brazil 2014 will equal Italia 90's record of eight games going to extra-time. It could be another example of the tournament that keeps giving, right to the (sudden) death.
Research by Sports Interaction