Ecuador has been one of the more pleasant stories of the tournament, upsetting Poland and cruising past Costa Rica in their first two games. This is, obviously, the real test, with the Ecuadorians facing host Germany. The winner takes the top seed out of Group A, and if there's a draw, it's good news for Ecuador, which has the 5-0 goal differential advantage going in.
That was all very technical, of course; what's really fun, as always, will be the crazy home-country fans, who will be looking to send the crew into the Round of 16 in style. Yeah: Germany vs. Ecuador.
We were going to live blog the Costa Rica-Poland game right alongside this, but the live blogger of that game is stuck with technical problems. So this is your lone live-blog this morning. It's Benny Hsu, purveyor of The Sports Pulse. You can email him with your thoughts, follow along in the comments and hey, enjoy the bringing the rock, rockers.
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Post game: The Germans are going to party tonight like it's 1999. Thanks for those few who may have followed along with me. Thanks to Will for the opportunity to contribute to the best sports blog out there. Enjoy the rest of the World Cup games.
92:08 The referee blows the final whistle. 3-0 butt whooping. Germany wins the group. Their opponent will be decided later today. If England ties or wins they will win the group and avoid a matchup with Germany. Though as a soccer fan that would be a dream matchup.
90:00 Free kick just outside the box for Ecuador. Again the Germans with a huge wall up. This time the shot goes way low. Corner kick for Ecuador.
89:00 Ecuador looks lethargic out there today. They looked worse than Togo and that's pretty bad.
86:44 A strong shot by Ballack that is saved by the goalie. It actually seemed to knock him back because it was struck so hard.
83:00 Pace of the game is slowing down. Germany still trying to score but fumbles the ball when they get close.
80:41 I don't vote for the man of the match but my vote is for the little boy, Jose, in this ubiquitious Nike commericals. Second place would be Klose with two goals.
76:00 Ballack "DRIVES IT!!" as JP said. Driving a Mercedes instead of a Volkswagen probably.
74:40 Borowski with a yellow card. I missed what it was for and with the confused look on his face he missed it too.
73:36 Another mention of the scenario for the USA team. They need to play like the Germans basically.
71:00 The Germans set up a nice wall and the ball sails way over. Not the first them there's been a nice wall in Germany.
69:00 Foul from behind and Ecuador with a nice chance with a free kick from the top of the box. I always wonder how the opposing players communicate each other and with the referee since everyone's from a different country. Since Chinese is the most spoken language on the planet, I'll assume that's how they communicate.
66:00 First substitution for Germany. Klose comes out but Ballack is still in the game. Surprising. I wouldn't want to risk injury or a second yellow care for a match that is one sided. Hope the plan doesn't backfire for Klinsmann. He might have to hide in the Afghan caves if Ballack got seriously hurt.
63:00 Ecuador makes their first subsitution. It's two names I've never heard of before so I wont' bother to look it up.
62:00 I'm glad soccer is not like baseball where the coaches/managers have to wear the uniform. It'd be even worse if they had to wear shin guards and long socks as well.
59:00 Again Podolski almost had another goal. Ballack with a nice run to goal and a short cross to Podolski. They must be going for Argentina's record of six goals in this World Cup.
56:39 GGGGOOOAAALLL!! I'd be losing my voice if I wasn't typing it. Podolski finally gets his goal on a nice cross from Schweinsteiger. All he had to do was redirect the ball. 3-0 now Germany.
52:50 Podolski has a great opportunity on goal but just shoots it wide. They show the mandatory shot of Klinsmann's reaction to the missed goal. Thanks to a two goal lead, it didn't look like he was going to turn into the Incredible Hulk.
51:00 First yellow card of the game given to Valencia. He went studs up into Ballack's ankle. Somewhat similar to the Mastraoni foul in the Italy game. Dangerous foul. Ballack is walking off and the country of German can breath.
48:50 Tenorio gets a shot off the Lehmann. He finally had to make a save. No sweat though. He's with leather.
45:40 Lots of traffic inside the box and almost another goal for German. This time it was Podolski who had the best chance.
Halftime: In the first half the Germans domainted. They had three shots on goal (scored 2) while Ecuador has the goose egg. I don't see many hard and nasty fouls. Probably because both know they are moving to the round of 16 and are risking no major injuries on both sides. Wonder if Klinsmann will take out starters to save their energy and avoid second yellow cards.
I can imagine both teams in the locker room playing online poker or playing FIFA on the XBOX 360. That's how laid back this game feels.
Whittlz is threatening to get a pedicure unless Ecuador turns this game around. Let's hope the 2nd round bring us more action.
45:00 That is the half. Thanks to Klose the Germans have a 2-0 lead in this game. Ecuador looks content to look forward to the next round. Enjoy halftime but try not to stare directly at Julie Foudy.
43:03 GOOOOOOAAALL again for Klose! Ballack puts a nice chip pass to Klose who takes a touch to the right to avoid the goalie and has an open net to shoot. Great goal scorers finish opportunities like this. Two goals in the game for Klose.
40:00 So far there have been 18 fouls in this game but no yellow cards. That must be a record in this World Cup. The USA/Italy game was just about to have 2 red cards by this point.
37:08 Lehman still hasn't had a shot on goal on him. Ecuador gets a shot off but it was headed for the seats.
36:15 Quick counter for Ecuador but there were two yellow jerseys against four white ones. I know that's more white than yellow even though it's early.
33:44 Hard foul on Ballack. He got an elbow to the head by Guagua. Elbow to the head but not even a yellow card.
32:49 Not much to say about Ecuador. So I will say that the main currency in Ecuador is the US Dollar. I never knew that.
32:00 Free kick opportunity from outside the 18 yard box for Matt Damon look alike captain Michael Ballack.
29:15 Podolski has a break away but the goalie comes out to kick the ball away. Ballack had an open goal from 40 yards away but sails it wide right.
28:18 Again another mention and discussion about the USA game. I have a feeling this will be a common theme this whole match. Especially if this turns into a one sided game.
27:32 The crowd is not booing but they're saying "HUTH" for defender Robert Huth. What a last name.
26:08 Costa Rica has scored and leads 1-0 over Poland. Poland was expected to finish second in the group behind Germany. So far they haven't scored a goal yet. We know that feeling.
24:30 Klose with another chance to score but the ball was a bit too fast for him and grabbed by the goalie. Again the goalie has the Ecuadorian flag painted on his face.
21:39 First player down in the game. Kaviedes goes down in a lot of pain. But quickly is brought back to life.
18:54 The quickest goal in a World Cup finals match, as recognised by FIFA, is 11 seconds, scored by Hakan Sukur of Turkey against Korea Republic at Daegu, Korea on June 29, 2002.
18:19 Germany again with another great play down the sideline. The cross came back to the middle but was shot over the goal.
16:00 We are reminded again the situation for the USA game. We must pray basically.
13:52 Germany applying the pressure still. Ecuador has taken out some of their starters including top scorer Tenorio. Having a tough time stringing passes. It shows.
10:57 Quickest goal for Germany since 1978. It was a great goal as well. Time for an extra beer.
08:31 All the possession thus far has been mainly in the German half of the field.
05:53 That is the first time I have ever seen a short pass off a free kick and then immediately another foul. It is like 5 yards to the right this time.
05:08 Foul outside the top left corner of the penalty box. Dangerous situation for Germany. They are looking to dominate this game for the home fans in Berlin.
03:40 GOOOOOOALLLLLL!!!!! Not off the corner kick but the ball kept alive afterwards! Goal scoring machine Klose drives the ball about 10 yards away an drills it into the goal. He then does a backflip to celebrate.
03:00 First corner kick of the match goes to Germany.
01:00 Ecuador already with their first real scoring chance on a cross but saved by Lehmann.
00:00 Germany sporting their classic white and black uniforms. Ecuador comes out in their yellow jersey, with blue shorts, and red socks.
I'm excited to be live blogging this game. Thanks to Will for giving me the space. I hope to do my best to give you play-by-play during the next two hours.
Preview:Ecuador has certainly impressed so far this World Cup and they currently have the lead in the group based on the goal differentials. A draw for them would be enough to give them first place in the group and avoid a clash with England. Germany on the other hand needs to win this game if they are going to finish first so there will be plenty to play for here. The Germans are going to be fielding their strongest line-up for this game despite the fact that Captain Michael Ballack is carrying a yellow card into this game. Word out of the Ecuadorian camp is that they may rest players sitting on a yellow card for the knock out stage. They may be content to just be at this point now and will start to make preparations for the knock-out stage regardless of who they draw. Carlos Tenorio will be held back by Ecuador as he nurses an injury and coach Suarez may make as many as 5 moves for this match.
For those who get excited about World Cup gambling today Germany is favored by one goal with the over/under total goals at 2.5. If you are betting you would have known this already.
Announcing Crew: Today we thankfully don't have to listen to the yelling of Glen Davis and Shep Messing. Instead we are in the presence of an all American team of JP Dellacamera and John Harkes.
JP has worked with ESPN since 1985. He's been the lead commentator for the last three Women's World Cup. JP is the man who called the USA vs China 1999 Women's World Cup penalty kick shootout final. Who can forget hearing " The shot-save, Scurry!" Or you forgot to make room what happen when you mix mentos and a 2 liter soda.
John Harkes made his debut as a soccer commentator this World Cup. One of the most accomplished American soccer players ever, John Harkes was a fixture in the midfield for the National Team as captain in the mid 1990s. He led D.C. United to two MLS titles in '96 and '97. Starred as Ed McIlvenny in the 2005 movie The Game of Their Lives, a film about the United States' historic 1-0 victory over England in the 1950 World Cup. Also in that movie? The oldest son from "Home Improvement" and Gavin Rossedale from the band Bush or husband of Gwen Stefani. In 1994, Harkes appeared on People magazine's annual "The 50 Most Beautiful People" issue. Hard to believe by looking at the picture above.
Babe for the match:
Finally, this is for those who only come to the live soccer blog to look for the babe of the match. Since Will did not provide one in the picture I will help. When I think of Germany, only one supermodel comes to mind. Auf Wiedersehen (Semi SFW)