Forget the thrill of the game, the rush of goals and the fervor of the fans. For some, the players' haircuts are the most closely watched trend at the World Cup.
Italy's Francesco Totti said good-bye to his locks for the 2006 World Cup
Italy's brush with the scissors and a bid for fame from a plucky African outsider has kept tongues wagging in hairdressers' salons all over the globe.
After years when flowing locks have been the norm, Italy have adopted the old adage that less is more.
Golden boy Francesco Totti, who had long cultivated a luxuriant bobbed style, appeared for his country's opening match against Ghana newly cropped.
A spidery do
After two weeks of matches, the tournament has arguably thrown up only one truly memorable haircut -- and it came from World Cup first-timers Angola and their extraordinarily-coiffured defender Loco.
Is that a spider on Loco's forehead?
Possibly in homage to the unusual "half moon" cut sported by Ronaldo as Brazil cruised to the title in 2002, Loco has shaved his entire head except for a dreadlocked patch at the front.
The effect is of a hairy spider perching on his forehead.
Running him a close second is the variation on the mohawk, which Germany's rising midfield star Bastian Schweinsteiger is sporting to the tournament.
British tabloids have compared Schweinsteiger's hairdo to a toilet brush
The hair on the sides is shaved short, but the strip down the middle of his head is bushy, earning him the nickname "Brushhead" in the German tabloids. Not everyone liked it.
"I hope it'll grow back, or there'll be trouble," said Uli Hoeness, the no-nonsense general manager of his club Bayern Munich.
The ponytail days are over
One trend from this World Cup: the ponytail is a dying phenomenon. Sweden's Christian Wilhelmsson has stubbornly persisted with the style, even adding a few blonde streaks for maximum effect, although pairing it with a spiky cut was perhaps taking it too far.
World Cup history is littered with memorable haircut moments. In 1998, Romania showed true team spirit when their entire lineup were bleached blond. 2002 was the year of the homemade mohawk, as sported by Turkey's Umit Davala, US striker Clint Mathis and German defender Christian Ziege -- at least until the mockery from his teammates persuaded him to shave it off.
Players' sporting more conservative hairstyles
A poll of hairdressers in one of the World Cup host cities, Hanover, revealed disappointment at the players' lack of adventure this year.
Beckham has sported some unusual hairstyles over the years
"There were a lot more strange haircuts in 2002," said one stylist, Luca. "Now a lot of the players just brush it forward like David Beckham."
Beckham once changed his hairstyle so often that the manufacturers of his replica doll tried to take out insurance -- the minute they had churned out a new doll, Becks had been to the salon again.
But the advancing years appear to be making the 31-year-old father-of-three conservative, and the face that has adorned a thousand magazine covers has been framed by a relatively unchanging blondish mop for at least 12 months.
Indeed Beckham's limelight was stolen by Marco Rodriguez, the Mexican referee for England's game against Paraguay, whose slicked-back appearance and scarlet jersey made him look as if he was heading for the dance floor at the final whistle.
One player who might be regretting his style is Trinidad and Tobago's Brent Sancho. England's tall striker Peter Crouch grabbed his dreadlocks to give him extra leverage as he jumped to head home the first goal in a 2-0 win. And no-one will forget Tunisian defender Anis Ayari's name, but not unfortunately because of his appearance -- he had two As shaved into his hair.