Our eyes do not deceive. France and Germany are following parallel
Each came charging out of the gate, France scoring eight goals and Germany six in their first two matches.
Each throttled down in its final group game, France scuffling to a scoreless draw, Germany scrapping past the U.S., 1-0.
Each went dangerously deep into its round-of-16 encounters, France scoring in the 79th minute to down Nigeria, Germany in extra time to elude Algeria.
The two scripts are about to diverge. The European soccer dignitaries go at it in the quarterfinals, a place that feels like home for Germany, this being its ninth straight elite eight.
However, the Germans might be homeward-bound soon if an apparent virus that bumped defender Mats Hummels from the previous match infects the team. Coach Joachim Loew reported Thursday that seven players had shown symptoms.
Hummels is healing, a welcome development given that the end came quickly for his understudy, Shkodran Mustafi, out for the duration with a thigh injury.
Loew cannot be feeling too chipper himself if he got word that several former national team captains have criticized his lineup and assignments within it. There is more stress on him than any coach still at work in Brazil not named Scolari.
France is healthier, physically and emotionally. Its bar of expectations is lower than Germany's after a disaster of titanic proportions in the 2010 Cup. Les Blues are injury- and illness-free. Dissension-free, too, with a youth brigade led by Paul Pogba, 21, a magnetic midfielder.