Group stage play comes to a close this week in South Africa, and with it comes one of the most exhilirating weeks in all of sport.
The format of the World Cup's first round is such that many teams can afford to play it safe in their early matches, hoping to avoid a crushing defeat that could make it tough to finish among the top two within the group and advance.
But now the points have added up, and for many teams they equate to a must-win final match or a plane ticket home.
Only the Netherlands and Brazil have assured themselves of a berth in the round of 16. Most other sides need to win, and many need to win big in order to tilt goal differential in their favor.
With these factors in play, and already-eliminated teams taking the pitch with nothing to lose, managers will hold nothing back and viewers should expect goals galore.
Here are the matches which should provide the most excitement this week.
It wouldn't be a World Cup without a bit of drama in the French camp, but France have outdone themselves in 2010.
After earning a berth to South Africa with the help of Thierry Henry's now-infamous sleight-of-hand against Ireland, the French have made more headlines off the field than on it in their first two weeks at the World Cup.
Star striker Nicolas Anelka was sent home following a verbal confrontation with coach Raymond Domenech during halftime of the team's game against Uruguay, and players boycotted the team's training session this past Sunday to protest their teammate's dismissal from the squad.
Now, France must somehow come together in time for a critical match against South Africa on Tuesday, where both teams must win to have a shot at advancing.
The host South Africans will hope to continue to play another day on their home soil, while the French players may take matters into their own hands in spite of the directions of the embattled Domenech.
Either way, it should be compelling.
Greece is still alive after a 2-1 victory over Nigeria, but they'll need a favorable result against an explosive Argentine side to make it through to the round of 16.
Greece and South Korea sit even in Group B with three points and a minus-one goal differential, but South Korea has an edge over the Greeks heading into Tuesday's games, having scored one more goal in group play and also having defeated the Greeks 2-0 in the group's opening match.
South Korea is likely to win against fourth-place Nigeria, meaning Greece will need to beat Argentina by two goals or more in order to advance.
Greek manager Otto Rehhagel will have to put numbers forward and hope that striker Theofanis Gekas, who led Europe with 10 goals in qualifying, can get in behind the Argentine defense.
Rehhagel has little choice except to go on the offensive against Argentina, but Lionel Messi and Gonzalo Higuain won't have trouble finding gaps if the Greeks stretch themselves too thin.
The United States advances with a win on Wednesday, but they must get it against an Algerian squad which has no intention of lying down.
Last-place Algeria can still advance past the group stage with a win against the U.S. and some help in the England-Slovenia match, but the Desert Foxes will have to improve their goal differential to earn the advantage in a possible tie-breaker with Slovenia.
Algeria has conceded just once in its first two matches--on a goalkeeping gaffe--and the Americans could find themselves in deep trouble if they allow another early goal.
After struggling to contain Slovenia through the midfield in the first half, don't be surpised if U.S. coach Bob Bradley pairs either Ricardo Clark or Maurice Edu--both more defensive-minded options than Jose Torres--in central midfield with Michael Bradley to start Wednesday's game.
Bob Bradley may also shift Clint Dempsey to striker in place of the suspended Robbie Findley, hoping that the Fulham star can manufacture yet another critical goal for his country.
Ghana and Germany inhabit the top two slots in Group D, but neither team can afford to lose if they hope to make the round of 16.
Third-place Serbia advances with a win against Australia, turning the match-up between the Black Stars and the Germans into a possible win-or-go-home contest.
Germany will be without the third-leading goal scorer in German history, top striker Miroslav Klose, who was sent off in the first half against Serbia. In his wake, the Germans will hope Klose's strike partner Lukas Podolski can make amends for his penalty miss against the Serbs with a fine performance up top versus Ghana.
Ghana forward Asamoah Gyan has scored a goal in each of the Black Stars' first two games, both of them from the penalty spot, and will try to continue that pace on Wednesday to move at least one African side past the group stage.
The Netherlands has assured itself a place in the second round, and Cameroon has played itself out of contention, so the Japan-Denmark matchup will determine Group E's other round of 16 qualifier.
Both teams withstood a heavy barrage from Cameroon, picking their spots to earn a victory and a valuable three points despite being heavily outshot by the African side.
Both squads also fell to the heavily-favored Dutch, but Japan's 1-0 loss places them ahead of Denmark, who lost 2-0, in goal differential.
Now, anything but a Denmark victory puts Japan through, so expect Denmark to pull out all the stops if the game remains tied in the later stages.
Group F hasn't been the dream group that many thought it would be for Italy, but a loss to Slovakia would make this World Cup a nightmare for the Azzurri.
Marcello Lippi's squad has underwhelmed in 1-1 draws against New Zealand and Paraguay, and anything short of a win against Slovakia could mean elimination for the defending World Champions.
With star keeper Gianluigi Buffon out indefinitely, Italy may get a boost this week should Andrea Pirlo suit up against Slovakia.
The Italian maestro has been battling a calf injury, but he has resumed training this week and his possible return against Slovakia would be crucial for an Italian offense that has sputtered in its first two games.
Slovakia finds themselves very much alive in Group F despite a loss to Paraguay and will try to sneak into the second round while playing spoiler against Italy.
Both of the final games in Group G will almost surely be meaningless, but they have the potential to be a couple of the most thrilling games of the tournament.
Portugal's 7-0 drubbing of North Korea gives them a commanding advantage over the Ivory Coast, who will try to bury as many goals as they can against group punching bag Korea DPR.
The game should certainly make for entertaining soccer as the Ivorians throw caution to the wind in an attempt to bag double digits, while North Korea tries to preserve whatever smidgeon of pride they have left.
Perhaps the most anticipated group stage matchup aside from the England-U.S. contest when the groups were drawn, Brazil-Portugal will end up being a non-factor in the group standings barring a miraculous showing from the Ivory Coast.
Even so, the shear amount of talent on display will make the game a must-see. Cristiano Ronaldo and company will try to build off their offensive explosion against North Korea, while Brazil will play with their legendary flair, especially with a spot in the round of 16 already locked up.
With six points heading into its final match, Chile would be safe in just about every group in South Africa, but not Group H.
A win or tie against Spain would put Chile through to the second round, but that could be a tall order against a Spanish side that needs to win to ensure itself a plae in the round of 16.
If Chile loses, it will hope that Switzerland doesn't beat Honduras by enough to make up the goal differential between the two teams, which currently sits at two goals (Chile is +2, Switzerland is +0).
Spain will come out hungry, which is bad news for Chile, who will hope to limit David Villa, Fernando Torres and the rest of La Roja's arsenal of offensive weapons enough to continue on in South Africa.