Switzerland were not everyone's favourites to top Group G at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, with many expecting France and 2002 surprise package Korea Republic to be too strong for them.
However, Kobi Kuhn's men proved their doubters wrong by holding the French to a draw and then beating both Togo and the South Koreans 2-0 to finish as group winners. Their reward is a Round of 16 meeting with Ukraine, who produced a different kind of surprise by losing so heavily to Spain in their first Group H match before qualifying at the expense of Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.
While a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Spain was a bitter pill to swallow on their FIFA World Cup debut, Oleg Blokhin's team turned things round in their second match against Saudi Arabia, winning by the same margin. They then managed a 1-0 victory over Tunisia in their final group fixture to make the last 16.
Switzerland: Red shirts, white shorts, red socks
Ukraine: Yellow shirts, yellow shorts:, yellow socks
Swiss goalkeeper Pascal Zuberbuehler and the players in front of him are yet to concede a goal at the tournament. This is an impressive record and the men from the Alpine nation are determined to keep it going. However, they will be without towering centre-half Philippe Senderos, who is out of the tournament after dislocating his shoulder against Korea Republic. His place is likely to go to another youthful talent, Johan Djourou, who impressed while deputising for Senderos for 37 minutes against the Koreans. Ukraine will also have to readjust their defence as centre-halves Andriy Rusol and Vyacheslav Sviderskyi are both ruled out. The pair collected second yellow cards against Tunisia and will miss the match through suspension.
The clash in Cologne is the first between the teams at senior level. However, there are seven players involved in this fixture who also took part in the goalless draw between the countries at the 2004 UEFA U-19 European Championship. For the Swiss, Blerim Dzemaili, Valon Behrami and Johan Djourou have graduated to the senior squad team, while involved for Ukraine are Bohdan Shust, Dmytro Chigrynskyi, Oleksandr Iatsenko and Artem Milevskiy.
It will be interesting to see the impact on this contest of strikers Alexander Frei and Andriy Shevchenko . The latter is one of the superstars of international football and was named 2004 European Footballer of the Year. The Ukraine captain has struck no less than 18 goals in FIFA World Cup qualifiers since 1998 and has two strikes to his name at these finals.
On the opposing side, Rennes-based forward Frei has also struck twice at the tournament, following on from the seven goals he recorded in the qualifiers for Germany. The 26-year-old's contribution has been noted by FIFA's Technical Study Group (TSG) who named him Budweiser Man of the Match for the games against Togo and Korea Republic. The pair will play a decisive role in deciding who progresses to the quarter-finals.
What they're saying
Kobi Kuhn, Switzerland coach: You have to win to go through. Our opponents are strong, but we have the belief to make the next round. I don't know if it will be enough but we're up for it.
Oleg Blokhin, Ukraine coach: Our goal was always the Round of 16, and we're in the Round of 16. We've achieved our first target. Now let's wait and see.