In a world, where every four years, 32 nations gather to determine a champion, only one team can hoist the World Cup trophy. [Cue the massive explosions.]
With apologies to "Iron Man 2," "Twilight" and whatever other blockbusters are headed to theaters this summer, none of them can compare to the most dramatic event of 2010: The World Cup.
The World Cup, in addition to being the only truly world championship outside of the Olympic Games, is the only tournament capable of providing the full range of human emotion:Anger
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. The best screenwriters couldn't script some of those things.
To get you ready for the drama that will start unfolding on June 11 in South Africa, The Star and The Full 90 will introduce you to the teams, the key performers, what to look for and what to expect in this year's Cup.
Continuing with The Group of Disorder....
UruguayGroup A THE BASICS
Royal Blue and White
•How They Got Here:
Finished fifth in South American qualifying; defeated Costa Rica 2-1 in a two-game playoff.
•World Cup pedigree:
10 Cup appearances, 2 championships ('30, '50); last appearance in 2002, failed to progress past the first round.THE PLOT
Can a mediocre team (6 wins, 6 losses and 6 draws in qualifying) in a mediocre group (South Africa qualified automatically, France needed a lucky handball to progress and Mexico struggled throughout qualifying) recapture its past glory?THE DIRECTOR
Oscar Tabárez (Uruguay)
Led the Uruguayans to the 1990 World Cup, when they were eliminated in the second round. Coached Boca Juniors to glory. Didn't have the same success at AC Milan, where he lasted less than a year.LEADING MAN
Diego Forlán (forward, Atletico Madrid)
The former Manchester United striker is a formidable goal-scoring threat.SUPPORTING CAST
(forward, Ajax) scored an astonishing 33 goals with Ajax this year and tallied 10 during Uruguay's qualifying campaign;Nestor Muslera
(goalkeeper, Lazio) didn't earn his first cap until October 2009, but will likely start the World Cup as the No. 1 keeper;Potential breakout performer: Martin Caceres
(defender, on loan to Juventus from Barcelona) impressed in Italy and is young (23) and can play either centrally or at right back.THE LIKELY VILLAIN
Suarez. He's a hot head who is known as much for his deft goal-scoring touch as he is for his propensity to pick up cards.PRODUCTION NOTES
Tabárez likes the standard 4-4-2, but has been known to go with just three in the back when pushing forward.WHAT THEY'LL WEAR
IT'S SORTA LIKE...
"All About Eve"
Two things happened in 1950: Uruguay won their last World Cup trophy and "All About Eve" won the Academy Award. Neither have mattered much since then. Neither held up to the test of time.TRAILER
Forlan and Suarez finding the net in a 2-1 qualifying victory over Ecuador.DO WHAT YOU WILL WITH THIS...
Uruguay has the best collection of nicknames in the field. Midfielder Cristian Rodriguez is known as "The Onion," head coach Tabárez is known as "El Maestro," veteran Sebastian Abreu is "El Loco (The Madman)," Muslera is known in Italy as "Castorino (The Little Beaver)" and Forlán is known in Manchester as "El Missed Opportunity." (I seriously only made that last one up.)CRITICAL BLURBS
This might be the perfect group for them -- everyone is mediocre. ... They are an unbalanced team that's too heavy in attack and too light (and young) in defense. ... The game against Mexico on June 22 should be one of the most exciting in the first round, lots and lots of goals. ... Beat Costa Rica 1-0 in Estadio Ricardo Saprissa Aymá, which is no easy feat. Just ask the United States. ... Best case scenario? They sneak past Mexico and/or France for one of the group's top spots. ... Realistic prediction? Finishing third behind Mexico and France.POSSIBLE HOLLYWOOD MOMENT
If Uruguay can somehow sneak past Mexico (or France) and grab the second spot, they'd likely face Argentina in the knockout phase. If they can beat Argentina (which, given Diego Maradona's spotty record as manager and their recent struggles, is completely possible) the next round would likely feature either the reasonably weak Germans or the overachieving Americans in the quarterfinals. They'd love their chances against either team. If (not that big an if) they get that far, up next would likely be Spain who are perennial underachievers in their own right. Then, bam, Los Charruas are back in the finals for the first time half a century. That's not to big of a stretch is it?
Group A: South Africa
, Uruguay, Mexico, France
South Korea, Greece, Nigeria, Argentina
Algeria, Slovenia, USA, England
Serbria, Australia, Ghana, Germany
Japan, Cameroon, Denmark, Netherlands
New Zealand, Slovakia, Paraguay, Italy
North Korea, Ivory Coast, Portugal, Brazil
Honduras, Chile, Switzerland, Spain
Sources: World Cup 2010 (by Steven D. Stark and Harrison Stark); ESPN and Soccernet.com; FIFA; CIA Factbook