2010 World Cup: Five Storylines Heading Into the Final Weekend
With the 19th installment of the world's largest event coming to a close, we can take a look back (and forward) at some of the biggest stories and talking points about the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Can Uruguay Salvage a Medal for South America?
Once the quarterfinals arrived, talk began of an "All South American" final four in this year's tournament.
However, with Holland's "upset" of Brasil, Germany's domination of Argentina and Spain's dramatic victory over Paraguay, Diego Forlán and his fellow Uruguayans were the only South American squad to make it to the semifinals.
Now facing Germany in Saturday's consolation game, the Celeste has an opportunity to play for continental pride against one of the tournament's most impressive sides.
Can Miroslav Klose Tie or Break Ronaldo's Record?
After tearing through World Cup scoresheets just like he did in 2002 and 2006, German striker Miroslav Klose now stands with 14 career goals in the tournament, one shy of Ronaldo's all-time record of 15, and even with German legend Gerd Muller.
News has leaked out of the German camp of a back injury that is nagging the forward, but conventional wisdom says Klose must be included in this match. At age 32, this could be his last opportunity to take the field for Germany in a World Cup match.
Klose is already arguably the greatest aerial striker of all time, but I'll go out on a limb and predict that Klose will in fact score against Uruguay, and cement his place as one of the best World Cup players in history.
How Will South Africa 2010 Be Remembered?
Perhaps South Africa wasn't the ideal candidate to host a World Cup, with low attendance and security concerns rising in the buildup to and during the event. South Africa is undoubtedly the host nation with the lowest "tourist" appeal out of any that have welcomed the festivities.
Football fans though, will remember the tournament for its competitiveness. With 139 goals currently recorded, South Africa 2010 has seen the lowest scoring of any World Cup since the event expanded to a 32-team format.
Blame it on the Jabulani? Hardly. This installment of the World Cup has featured some excellent defensive play, and fittingly, the goal of the tournament was scored by a defender, Giovanni Van Bronckhorst.
Once the round of 16 arrived, fans were treated with a wide open bracket full of possibilities. What we were rewarded with was a championship match featuring two nations who have never lifted the trophy, which brings us to the next question...
Will Both Holland and Spain Play to Their Full Potential?
With a history of underachievement in international tournaments, it's fair to wonder if both of these squads will bring their "A game" on Sunday.
There's plenty of reasons to be hopeful. Wesley Sneijder and David Villa are currently sharing the goalscoring lead at South Africa 2010 with five apiece, and they will be central to their team's attacking strategy when the final kicks off.
We are guaranteed to see a nation win their first World Cup. That alone is a blessing for football fans to witness. With only seven nations in the elite fraternity of champions, it's a significant moment in sport when another joins.
A new champion has only been crowned once in the past 32 years, when hosts France won their first title in 1998. For those who consider football their religion, a first-time World Cup champion is the equivalent of the election of a new Pope at the Vatican.
Because of this, I think these two world-class sides will be at their best on Sunday, and they will put on a classic.
Who Is the Early Favorite to Win the World Cup In Brasil In 2014?
It's never too early to start calling our shots for the 20th World Cup, hosted by the tournament's most historically successful participants.
Based on what we've seen in the past, the host nation always has a great shot at winning, and Brasil can never be counted out no matter where the tournament is being played.
However, with the results we witnessed at South Africa 2010, the age of their roster, and the depth of talent they have, Germany have to be the early favorites in my book.
A new golden generation of players is emerging for Die Mannschaft, with Podolski, Schweinsteiger, Oezil, and Mueller set to be in their prime playing days when Brasil 2014 rolls around.
If the Germans can maintain their current string of deep tournament runs in Euro 2012, confidence as well as expectations may be at an all-time high in 2014. I say they'll have the tools to deliver an all-time great achievement as well.