The last 16 match between Germany and Switzerland will see a confrontation between two Central European neighbours well known to each other. The only unusual thing this time around is that the Swiss will be favourites, at least on the strength of their first round performances, when they secured maximum points playing both brilliant and efficient football. The Germans, in contrast, struggled hugely to qualify from Group A, which admittedly was a real "group of death". But of course, Switzerland won't need reminding that Germany are written off at one's peril.
The contrast between these two neighbouring countries in terms of footballing pedigree is striking. Germany are one of the heavyweights of world football, having won the FIFA World Cup™ three times, the European Championships twice, and finished third at the last FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2007. In comparison, the Swiss are complete novices, this being their first-ever U-17 World Cup.
But in the course of the group stages at Nigeria 2009, it seemed like the tables were starting to turn. After an imposing display in a difficult Group B, where they beat Brazil, Japan and Mexico to claim maximum points, Dany Ryser's boys have gained great confidence and are beginning to think they can go all the way. Conversely, the Germans laboured in the group stage, winning four points from a possible nine after three unconvincing performances. But coach Marco Pezzaiuoli does have some grounds for satisfaction, as in Lennart Thy he has the tournament's top scorer, with three goals in as many games, and his team showed a lot of heart to qualify, overcoming Honduras in a must-win final group game.
Both sides will go into the match aware of the need to show discipline if they want to avoid suspensions, as Germany have four players who are one yellow card away from missing the quarter-finals, while the Swiss have eight.
"We weren't expecting to come up against one of the big guns so soon, but we came here to go as far as possible and take on the best teams in the world. And with the Mannschaft, that's exactly what we've got." Nassim Ben Khalifa, Switzerland playmaker
"It is good that we have proved morality and character in the group stage and now be able to start all-over again. This experience brought us even closer together. If we become World Champions? Yes!" Lennart Thy, Germany forward