"The next game is always the most important." Coaches and footballers alike have been using this old adage to emphasise their focus on an upcoming match for decades. At the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, the phrase "the first game is the most important" is arguably more appropriate for the likes of Korea Republic and Greece, who go head to head on Saturday.
Considering the strength of the other two teams in Group B, Argentina and Nigeria, this clash could well prove decisive. La Albiceleste are undoubted group favourites, while the other three will all feel they are capable of claiming second spot and a place in the last 16.
Korea Republic–Greece, Nelson Mandela Bay/Port Elizabeth (Port Elizabeth Stadium), Saturday 12 June, 13.30 (local time)
Although Saturday's clash will be the first time these two sides have met at a FIFA World Cup, there have been two previous encounters between the two nations. History favours the Asians, who ran out 1-0 friendly winners in February 2007, following a 1-1 draw in January 2006.
Korea Republic were the only team to remain undefeated in Asian Zone qualifying, with seven victories and a draw, and as a result go into the tournament full of confidence despite losing each of their final warm-up matches 1-0, against Belarus and Spain. The Greeks, meanwhile, took the long road to South Africa. The 2004 European champions had to come through a tricky play-off tie with Ukraine to book their place at the finals.
Players to watch
Ji-Sung Park vs Georgios Karagounis
Ji-Sung Park is the undisputed star of the Korea Republic team. Thanks to his exploits with Premier League powerhouse Manchester United, the attacking all-rounder is an idol in his homeland and in 2008 became the first ever Asian player to win the UEFA Champions League.
The 29-year-old faces an intriguing midfield battle with Georgios Karagounis at the Port Elizabeth Stadium. The Panathinaikos captain is hailed as the heartbeat of the Greece side and will be doing his best to break down the Koreans' attacking endeavours with another typically industrious display.
0 – Greece crashed out of their only FIFA World Cup to date in 1994 with zero points and zero goals. In the USA they lost 4-0 to Argentina, 2-0 to Nigeria and 4-0 to Bulgaria. They will now be hoping to put things right against the Albiceleste and the Super Eagles at South Africa 2010.
What they said
"Countries like South Korea have great team spirit and plenty of passion. We won't disappoint the Greek people. You feel as though you are among the best teams in the world, and that's no small thing." Otto Rehhagel, Greece coach
"In our eyes, the match against Greece is the most important of the group stage. If we can win that, we'll have the opportunity to play differently against Argentina and Nigeria." Lee-Young-Pyo, Korea Republic defender
Voice of the fans
"I can hardly wait to see who wins this game. The winner of this match will go through to the next round with Argentina." FIFA.com user jungho_hwang.
Can the Greeks score their first ever FIFA World Cup goal or even pick up a maiden victory in only their second appearance on the biggest stage of all?