Every World Cup sees the game’s governing body FIFA issue a directive to referees about cracking down on foul play.
This inevitably leads to a rash of yellow and red cards as players learn to adapt to a stricter refereeing regime that they are used to at their club sides.
For some players being sent off will be unfortunate and surprising. But for others, a red card is a familiar sight.
So, join us as we predict the top 10 contenders to see red at the 2010 World Cup.
One of the best defenders in the world, Nemanja Vidic is an uncompromising tackler though generally skillful enough to avoid picking up many red cards.
So, Serbian fans needn’t worry too much about losing the pillar of their back four.
Unless, that is, Serbia has to face Spain.
The only striker in the world who seems to really trouble Vidic is Liverpool’s Spanish star, Fernando Torres.
Over the past two seasons, the Manchester United defender was sent off in three consecutive games against Liverpool, usually collecting his yellows and reds whilst desperately chasing after El Nino.
Should Serbia find itself in a semi-final pairing with Spain, it might be an idea to keep the bath warm.
Hugo Lloris became the first French goalkeeper ever to be sent off when he received a red card during a World Cup qualifier against Serbia.
The young Lyon star was judged to have brought down Serbian striker Nikola Zigic and, as the last line of defense, the referee was obliged to dismiss him.
All goalkeepers will be under the same pressure at the tournament, but for Lloris in particular, rushing off his line to oppose an onrushing attacker will bring back bad memories.
Should the Ivory Coast captain recover from his fractured elbow in time to play in South Africa, he might find himself watching the action from the sideline for a whole other reason.
Drogba can occasionally let a big occasion get the better of him as evidenced by his petulant red card in the Champions League final against Manchester United.
In addition, if the referees start cracking down on diving at the World Cup, the big man with a habit of going down a little too easily could start racking up yellow cards.
And who wouldn’t mind seeing football’s finest thespian sent off for simulation this summer?
The Portsmouth midfielder was fortunate not to be sent off in this year’s FA Cup final when he fouled Chelsea’s Michael Ballack.
The tackle ruled the German captain out of the World Cup through injury.
Coincidentally, the German-born Boateng recently opted to play for Ghana, who will face Germany in a possible Group D decider in Johannesburg.
Boateng may find himself on the end of some late retribution tackles but can give as good as he gets.
His brother Jerome is likely to be Germany’s first-choice right-back, despite being sent off on his international debut against Russia last year.
The f*%&ing England star’s f*%&ing problem is that he sometimes swears too f*%&ing much and the f*%&ing referees don’t f*%&ing like it.
Rooney got in trouble with the referee for his potty mouth during England’s recent warm-up match against South African club Platinum All Stars.
Coach Fabio Capello has warned his team to cut out their swearing in an effort to ensure England keeps 11 players on the pitch.
Rooney is a big concern, after his stamp on Portugal’s Ricardo Carvalho earned him a red card, as England lost the 2006 World Cup quarterfinal clash.
The Manchester United striker’s opponents are well aware of his short fuse and will be doing everything they can to wind him up.
Argentina coach Diego Maradona hopes that his captain, Javier Mascherano, will lead the team by example.
Unless, that is, the example involves trudging off the pitch for an early bath after the referee has flashed his red card.
The Liverpool midfielder is one of the best tacklers in the business, yet sometimes he gets it wrong and earns the wrath of referees and supporters alike.
Sometimes, Mascherano’s biggest problem seems to be his speed. He makes up ground on opponents so quickly, that his brain can’t catch up and tell him not to dive in with his studs up.
A committed, tenacious tackler with a spiky personality and a likely candidate for a red card this World Cup.
Danish people are usually known for a laid-back, tolerant attitude to life. So, fiery Denmark midfielder Christian Poulsen may be channeling his nation’s aggressive Viking past when he takes to the field.
The 30-year old has been involved in a number of controversial incidents during his career.
At Euro 2004, Italy’s Francesco Totti was sent off for spitting at Poulsen, but later claimed the Dane had provoked him.
In a frantic Euro 2008 qualifying match against Nordic rivals Sweden, with the game tied at 3-3, Poulsen inexplicably punched Swedish striker Markus Rosenberg in the stomach.
After the referee awarded a penalty to Sweden and sent Poulsen off, a Danish fan invaded the pitch and attempted to attack the referee.
The game was abandoned and the tie was later awarded to the Swedes, with Poulsen receiving a three-game ban from UEFA.
When a player has the nickname Pitbull, you know he’s not exactly a man to pull out of 50/50 challenges.
In fact, Chilean defensive midfielder is such a tough tackler there is no such thing as a 50/50 ball for him. It’s Pitbull’s ball.
The 22-year old plays his football in Argentina for Boca Juniors. In March he became a Boca hero by scoring twice in the intense derby against fierce local rivals River Plate.
True to form, Pitbull was sent-off later in the match. It definitely won’t be the last red card of his career.
During his nine years in the Premiership, Lucas Neill picked up over 100 yellow cards and quite a few reds as well.
He was famously sent off for a challenge that broke Jamie Carragher’s leg, that sparked a war of words between Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier and Neill’s Blackburn boss Graham Souness, himself a former Liverpool coach.
At the 2006 World Cup, he was lucky not to receive his marching orders when he brought down Fabio Grosso in the penalty box in the last minute of Australia’s second round tie with Italy.
He did however concede a penalty, which Francisco Totti converted to send the Socceroos home.
Tough, brutal and occasionally clumsy, Neill’s commitment to the Aussie cause could have consequences in South Africa.
The Honduras center-back is a powerful player who is strong in the air and tough in the tackle.
His weakness? The 25-year old is a bit lumbering and gets easily turned by small, nimble strikers. But that shouldn’t be a problem in South Africa, right?
Unfortunately for Chavez, Honduras got the worst draw possible when it comes to his weak spot.
Not only are they facing European Champions Spain, who might actually be growing small, nimble footballers in an underground laboratory just outside Barcelona, but they open their World Cup against Chile.
The South American qualifiers are renowned for swift counter-attacking football. To make matters worse Humberto Suazo—the one Chilean striker Chavez might do well against—is likely to miss the game.