RIO DE JANEIRO - A global fever built up Sunday ahead of the World Cup final between Lionel Messi's Argentina and a formidable German team seeking a fourth title.
As about 100,000 Argentines poured into Rio de Janeiro, a record global television audience is expected for the finale of the 20th tournament and the result will be a landmark whichever country wins.
The game starts in the historic Maracana Stadium at 4:00 pm (1900 GMT) in front of 73,500 fans but under an unprecedented international spotlight.
With national excitement mounting after their country's 7-1 demolition of Brazil in the semi-final, up to 200,000 German fans were to pack a fan zone around the Brandenburg Gate in central Berlin. Millions more were to huddle in front of screens in beer gardens, bars, sports clubs and homes across the country.
On top of huge numbers heading for Brazil, tens of thousands of Argentines were expected to pack the Plaza San Martin in Buenos Aires, which was drenched by heavy rain on Saturday.
The football fiesta has turned into a global party with World Cup events organized in virtually every country. One Bangladesh farmer made a 3.5 kilometer (2.2 mile) long German flag which is surrounding a stadium in the western Bangladesh town of Magura.
Germany start as favourites to win the trophy and become the first European side to win a World Cup in the Americas.
A victory for Argentina would give its captain Messi his first World Cup and elevate the four-time world footballer of the year among the game's greats such as fellow Argentine Diego Maradona and Brazil's Pele.
"Tomorrow, we will play the most important match of our lives for our country," Messi wrote in a message on his official Facebook page late Saturday.
"My dreams and my hopes are being fulfilled due to the hard work and sacrifice of a team that has given everything from match one.