Argentina soccer fans react as they watch a broadcast of the 2014 World Cup semi-final between Argentina and the Netherlands at Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro, July 9, 2014. (REUTERS/Jorge Silva)
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People in the tourist mecca of Rio de Janeiro are used to just about everything.After Brazil's ignominious elimination by Germany in the semifinal Tuesday in a historic 7-1 rout, Brazilians are having a hard time accepting that their biggest rivals – and the butts of many a Brazilian joke – will play Sunday in the Maracana, the cathedral of Brazilian football and a stadium where the home team had been expected to hoist the most-coveted trophy in sports.Brazil eventually emerged as a much bigger and less volatile economy, especially during a recent decadelong boom that lifted more than 30 million people from poverty.The countries, undisputed powerhouses of the sport in Latin America, each stake their claim to having the greatest player of all time: Pele, winner of three World Cups with Brazil, and Diego Maradona, who led Argentina to one of its two titles.When Brazil was awarded the World Cup in 2007, then-President Luiz In?cio Lula da Silva joked about the rivalry in a speech.
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