The 2010 FIFA World Cup™ made history at the beginning as the first finals hosted in Africa and at the end with Spain becoming just the eighth team to win football's ultimate prize. In between, the world was exposed to South Africa like never before all the while being treated to one of the most balanced FIFA World Cups in recent memory.
Also a first, both teams from the previous Final failed to advance from the first round, as Italy and France crashed out in dramatic fashion. Fancied Brazil and Argentina were also eliminated earlier than many expected, as Uruguay and three European sides made up the last four. Join FIFA.com for a look at the 32 teams that came together to make South Africa 2010 a pageant of football.
The European champions were deserved winners of their first world crown despite losing their first match to Switzerland 1-0. Ironically La Roja won all of their knockout matches by that scoreline to become the first new winners of a FIFA World Cup without home advantage since Brazil lifted their first trophy in 1958.
The Dutch won all six of their matches on the way to the ultimate game, but could not prevent the third FIFA World Cup Final loss in their history. A come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Brazil in the last eight was arguably the highlight for the Oranje.
A young German team caught fire in the knock-out rounds, thumping four goals past England and Argentina, but Spain's juggernaut was too much in the last four. Top scorers for the second straight FIFA World Cup, their future is undoubtedly bright.
La Celeste were the biggest surprise package of South Africa, reaching a first semi-final since 1970. But the form of strikers Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez would have been enough to send any side far in the tournament.
Victorious in their first four matches, Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi and Co ran into a German buzz saw in the last eight, with all of their frailties exposed in a 4-0 defeat.
Everything was going according to plan for the five-time champions, but a second-half collapse against the Netherlands cost Dunga his job and left the 2014 hosts questioning themselves after consecutive last-eight exits.
The Black Stars were Asamoah Gyan's last-kick penalty miss away from becoming the first African side to reach the semi-finals. But the youngest team at the tournament are well placed for further success.
Decidedly difficult to beat, Paraguay topped their group and gave up just two goals in the tournament – to Italy and Spain. The latter knocked out Gerardo Martino's side but not before they had advanced further than ever before.
Round of 16
One of the most open and attack-minded teams in the tournament, Marcelo Bielsa's men ended a 48-year wait for a FIFA World Cup win but a match-up with Brazil was too much as they fell 3-0 in the second round.
An early goal in the much-anticipated match with the US augured well, but England never built on that and suffered their worst finals loss in history, a 4-1 dismantling by old enemies Germany.
A penalty shoot-out defeat at the hands of Paraguay was a hard end for a team that had achieved their first two World Cup wins on foreign soil, finishing second in their group behind the rampaging Dutch.
They recovered from a 4-1 loss to Argentina to reach the second round for the first time beyond their own shores, but once there, they could not overcome Uruguay and a rampant Luis Suarez.
An exciting team going forward, El Tri advanced to the second round for the fifth consecutive time, but as in 2006, a powerful Argentina proved their undoing.
The Portuguese scored seven goals, all of which came against Korea DPR, but a single goal by Iberian rivals Spain was enough to break Cristiano Ronaldo and Co's 19-match unbeaten streak.
Despite being knocked out by the Netherlands, Slovakia will always remember their first finals as an independent nation for the exciting 3-2 win over holders Italy that propelled them into the Round of 16.
Comeback kings in South Africa, the US fought back to draw against England and Slovenia before topping Group C with a last-gasp winner against Algeria. Resilient Ghana were one step too far in the last 16 as the Americans fell after extra time.
Les Fennecs lost to Slovenia and the US on late goals, and in between they drew with England, but their failure to find a single goal was disappointing.
A draw with Ghana and a defeat of Serbia put Australia remarkably close to advancing from Group D considering they had to deal with suspensions to Tim Cahill and Harry Kewell and an opening 4-0 loss to Germany.
The Indomitable Lions failed to roar at the FIFA World Cup once again as they became the first team eliminated from the finals and went home with no points.
Largely considered Africa's most talented team, they could not get through a difficult group, despite the inspiring presence of Didier Drogba, playing with his arm in a cast.
The Danes were always working uphill after an unlucky own goal against the Netherlands, but with a straightforward task in their last group match – beat Japan to advance – they lost disappointingly 3-1.
Finalists four years before, France's fall was dramatic as Les Bleus scored just a single goal while winning one point and suffering through a player revolt that left the team's future fractured.
Greece scored a goal and won a match at the finals for the first time, but a 2-1 defeat of Nigeria was not enough for them to end the Otto Rehhagel era on a high by escaping the group stage.
Only a scoreless draw with Switzerland to close the group kept Honduras from going home pointless, and the Central Americans did not find the goal once in a lacklustre campaign.
The deposed champions fell at the first hurdle for the first time since 1974 after failing to win a single match. Marcello Lippi's men were a shadow of their 2006 selves, losing to Slovakia 3-2 in their decisive Group F encounter.
A mystery team going in, the Koreans showed solidity in a narrow defeat by Brazil, but then collapsed against Portugal, conceding six in the second half of a tournament-high 7-0 loss.
Definite outsiders to start, the All Whites went home unbeaten from their first finals since 1982, proud to have claimed three draws to finish above holders Italy in Group F.
One point from Group B was a cruel fate for the Super Eagles, who lost a lead against Greece after a red card and were unlucky to draw with Korea Republic in their final contest when a win would have seen them through.
One of the favoured dark horses coming into the event, Serbia did the hard work of beating Germany but losses to Ghana and Australia ensured Radomir Antic's men headed for home as one of the bigger disappointments.
The nearly men can only lament the loss of a two-goal lead against USA when victory would have qualified them for the last 16 with a game to spare – and USA's last-minute winner against Algeria that sent them home.
Despite becoming the first host nation to fail to advance out of the group stage, Bafana Bafana will take some pride from a marvellous goal to open the tournament and a victory over former world champions France.
Ottmar Hitzfeld had Switzerland ready to go in South Africa, but a famous 1-0 win over Spain to open the event came to naught after they failed to score again.