Halftime Pledges and Anus Injuries: Your World Cup Thursday Roundup

Argentina's Javier Mascherano celebrates after Argentina defeated the Netherlands 4-2 in a penalty shootout after a 0-0 tie after extra time to advance to the finals during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo Brazil, on July 9, 2014.

Over the past two days, a historic blowout and a nerve-wracking grinder of a game finally gave us a World Cup final that promises to be epic: Germany versus Argentina at Rio de Janeiro's legendary Maracanã Stadium.
The soccer-watching world now catches its collective breath a day after the semifinals concluded. The much-anticipated final, meanwhile, is still three days away. As you continue to nurse your World Cup semifinals hangover, here's a morning-after roundup of some of the most interesting and entertaining odds and ends you may have missed on Thursday.

Adding insult to ... well, insult

Tears in Brazil-Photo Gallery

A fan of Brazil looks down as his team plays Germany in a semi-final match of the 2014 soccer World Cup, at the FIFA Fan Fest in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on July 8, 2014.
Brazil and Argentina have one of global soccer's fiercest rivalries. Argentina reaching the World Cup final in Rio's legendary soccer mecca only intensifies the humiliation of Brazil's semifinal blowout by Germany. I saw proof of this rivalry myself in Rio last month, but it's everywhere — you don't have to search far. Rio's mayor even joked last year that he'd kill himself if Argentina beat Brazil in the World Cup final. Check out this full rundown of why Argentina's success makes Brazil's World Cup nightmare so much worse.

An injury where the sun don't shine

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Argentina's Javier Mascherano, left, tackles Netherlands' Arjen Robben during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on July 9, 2014.
Argentina's Javier Mascherano made an extremely important tackle on the Netherlands' Arjen Robben on Wednesday, possibly saving a game-winning goal.
But he paid a price — a major price. Per Italian journalist Tancredi Palmeri:

And Deadspin has more. No word on whether Mascherano will be able to play in Sunday's final. He's an crucial player for Argentina, so if he can't go it'd be a real pain in the — well, you know.

Germany's pledge not to embarrass Brazil

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Germany's Mats Hummels, left, and Miroslav Klose celebrate at the end of the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Germany and France at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 4, 2014.
After scoring five goals to Brazil's zero in the first half of a shocking semifinal blowout, Germany made a halftime pledge in the locker-room not to humiliate their opponents any further.
Then they went out and scored two more goals.
Nevertheless, German defender Mats Hummels said the team agreed not to try anything they wouldn't do if the match had been a closely contested one, as many expected.
"We said we had to stay serious and concentrate at half-time. That's something you don't have to show on the pitch if you are playing," Hummels said, according to The Mirror. "You have to show the opponent respect and it was very important that we did this and didn't try to show some magic or something like this. It was important we played our game for 90 minutes."
Two days later, the onslaught still seems surreal.

Never forget the USMNT

Team USA's inspiring World Cup run is now a distant memory, but you can easily become a USMNT superfan between now and the 2018 World Cup. If you didn't catch ESPN's awesome "Inside U.S. Soccer" mini-series leading up to Brazil, you really missed out. It was excellent.
But here's the good news: ESPN just produced a final episode wrapping up the series and the gritty performance that enraptured fans across America. It's about nine minutes long; have a look.

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