Having bounced back from a thumping 5-2 defeat by France to convincingly beat Honduras, Switzerland will have to raise their level still further on Tuesday when they face Argentina in the round of 16 match in Sao Paulo.
Ottmar Hitzfeld’s side have proven to be something of a mixed bag thus far, scraping a late victory against Ecuador before their heavy loss to Les Bleus and responding with a Xherdan Shaqiri inspired 3-0 win over Honduras. Shaqiri will again be the man of whom much will be expected across Switzerland, with his hat-trick against Honduras having raised the bar following the less than convincing performances which had preceded their final Group E fixture.
Next though, they face an Albiceleste side benefiting from Lionel Messi’s first truly outstanding World Cup run. His four goals in their faultless Group F campaign have helped the Barcelona man to be picked out as the star of the tournament so far. Like the Swiss, Alejandro Sabella’s men have no suspension worries, having been brandished only a single yellow card in three games, but they are without Sergio Aguero thanks to a leg muscle injury. Ezequiel Lavezzi is likely to step into his place, with Rodrigo Palacio also in consideration.
Hitzfeld, meanwhile, has been hit by the loss of reserve striker Mario Gavranovic, who flew home on Sunday after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in training.
This will be the seventh international meeting between Argentina and Switzerland. Argentina are unbeaten in their previous six (Won-4 Drawn-2).
The only previous World Cup meeting between these two sides came back in 1966, when Argentina defeated Switzerland 2-0.
After failing to score in seven successive World Cup appearances, Lionel Messi has netted four goals in his three appearances at the 2014 finals.
Argentina have won their last three World Cup second round ties; winning on penalties versus England in 1998 and beating Mexico in both 2006 and 2010.
Argentina have been knocked out only once in their six previous appearances at this stage (versus Romania in 1994).
Argentina have won only 3 of their last 10 World Cup matches against a European team (Drawn-4, Lost-3).
Switzerland have been knocked out in the second round in their two previous appearances at this stage (versus Spain in 1994 and versus Ukraine in 2006).
The Swiss have kept a clean sheet in seven of their last 10 World Cup finals matches.
Switzerland have won just one of their previous six World Cup matches against South American nations (Won-1 Drawn-1 Lost-4), but this victory came earlier in this tournament v Ecuador.
Xherdan Shaqiri scored a hat-trick in Switzerland’s final group game against Honduras – the 50th hat-trick in World Cup history.
Argentina have had an average possession figure of 65% so far at this tournament, the highest in this finals and their highest average at a World Cup finals since 1966.
Four of Argentina’s last seven World Cup goals have come from outside the box, including half of their six goals(3) at this tournament.