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2014 World Cup Knockout Round Day Three Open Thread

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Does the World Cup ever get a case of the Mondays?

Sorry apostolos
Sorry apostolos
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Two of the bigger names in the tournament go back to business today.

9AM PT: France vs. Nigeria
1PM PT: Germany vs. Algeria

I've read a little of the commentary around why UEFA teams aren't doing all that well in the World Cup, relatively (there are fewer UEFA teams this year and 2010 than any other year) and everyone has a theory - from travel distance (as if the teams were still traveling by steamship or something) to heat (which may have some validity), but nobody seems to bring up the brutal European schedule and exhaustion as a factor.

Elite players on elite teams play a ton of games, almost non-stop; to pick one example, Per Mertesacker, if Germany reach the final, will have played the 2012-13 league season, Confederations Cup, the 2013-14 league season in which WC qualifiers were also present, the FA Cup, and the Champions League. That's two years of pretty much non-stop football, with only a couple weeks' break in between each thing.  And three weeks after this WC, the 2014-15 league season's training will start for these guys.

For you and I with desk jobs or school, two weeks is probably an OK break, but for guys whose job it is to spend at least 90 and more typically 180 minutes a week at their absolute physical peak giving max effort, it's a grind. This WC is at the end of that bruising cycle, so maybe that's another factor?  All I know is that the end of the 2014-15 league season may bring with it a decline in quality of play and an increased risk of injury; there are no conclusive stats to prove this, but it is a fact that tired players make more mistakes, which may or may not lead to more injuries.

How does this relate to today's games?  It doesn't, but I caught the ET of Costa Rica/Greece yesterday, and watching Joel Campbell get ground down to a nub yesterday got me thinking about it.

Anyway, today's games are on ESPN in the US, CBC in Canada, and various other providers 'round the world.