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.
Up next, the hardest working team in Asia...
South KoreaGroup B THE BASICS
Red and white
•How They Got Here:
Went undefeated in the semi-finals and finals of Asian qualifying.
•World Cup Pedigree: 8 World Cups (including every one since '86); finished fourth in 2002 (when they were co-hosts). THE PLOT
Can a hard-working and industrious team built around a solitary star player survive amongst the world's elite?THE DIRECTOR
The former PSV Eindhoven player was the boss in 1995 and again from '98-2000. Of course, South Korea's best World Cup run came in 2002 when Dutch master Guus Hiddink was in charge.LEADING MAN
One of the most popular players in the world is an unspectacular and incredibly efficient midfielder for Manchester United. Which is fitting for this team. (I apologize in advance for the horrible music. The video is quality though.)SUPPORTING CAST
(forward, AS Monaco) is a free-kick specialist and might be one of the fastest players in the tournament;Lee Young-Pyo
(left back, Al-Hilal [Saudi Arabia]) is a veteran of several mid-level European teams, including Tottenham and PSV Eindhoven, and is -- this might shock you -- very fast;Lee Woon-Jae (goalkeeper, Suwon Bluewings)
will be competing in his FIFTH World Cup.LIKELY BREAKOUT STAR(s)
Surrounding Park Ji-Sung in the midfield will be a duo of very talented British-based midfielders,Ki Sung-Yueng
. Sung-Yueng has been dubbed "The Korean Gerrard" and plays for Celtic. Chung-Yong was signed out of nowhere by Bolton. The duo are known in Korea as "Double Dragon."THE LIKELY VILLAIN
He has created divisions in the team before. In 2006, Young-Pyo allegedly requested the manager drop all Buddhist players be dropped and replaced with Christians like him.PRODUCTION NOTES
The team will play a tight 4-3-3 focused on possessing the football, which should allow them to utilize their quickness against more physical teams.WHAT THEY'LL WEAR
IT'S SORTA LIKE...
"I Am Legend"
Park Ji-Sung, like Will Smith, is the only big-name player in this production. If you'd like to make a joke about Argentina and zombies, the floor is all yours.TRAILER
DO WHAT YOU WILL WITH THIS...
The South Korean national anthem, "Aegukka (Patriotic Song)," was sung to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne" until 1937 when it received it's own original score.CRITICAL BLURBS
This could be the best of draws or the worst of draws for South Korea. It all will depend on what sort of result they get in the first game against Greece. ... Pace and hard work can unhinge talented teams like Argentina. Greece and Nigeria will have trouble putting the ball in the back of the net as well. ... It could go bad for South Korea if the other three teams get physical. A physical, hard-tackling game could be South Korea's undoing. ...Best-case scenario?
Slipping into the knock-out phase with a winnable game against France. ...Realistic prediction?
Finishing third in the group with a win and two losses.POSSIBLE HOLLYWOOD MOMENT
June 17, just minutes after the final whistle blows. The result is meaningless, but let's say it's 2-1. The game's two most influential players, both soaked in sweat and exhausted meet at midfield. World's collide. The most popular player in Europe/Latin America, Leo Messi, and the most popular player in Asia, Park Ji-Sung, exchange jerseys to an explosion of flashbulbs.
Group A: South Africa
, Nigeria, Argentina
Algeria, Slovenia, USA, England
Serbia, 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