It is the truth that dare not speaks its name – even for a team as buoyant as Germany, there is reason to be fearful when Zlatan Ibrahimović is around.
Sweden were heading for a humbling loss to the Faroe Islands in Friday's FIFA World Cup qualifier, but Ibrahimović chimed in with an assist and a goal to earn Erik Hamrén's team a 2-1 win. Joachim Löw's charges enjoyed a far more straightforward 6-1 victory away to the Republic of Ireland the same evening, and are now three points clear at the Group C summit. There is nevertheless reason to be wary ahead of Tuesday's meeting in Berlin.
"He is an outstanding striker, a complete attacker and a leader of his team," Germany captain Philipp Lahm said of his Sweden counterpart. Löw is also cautious over the threat posed by his side's next opponents.
"Sweden play different football to the Irish," he said. "Sweden are capable of playing good football and do not only use the long ball. However, if we once again show organisation and discipline in defence, and play the passing game we are used to, we will create opportunities."
Though the forward threat posed by Ibrahimović is all too vivid for Germany, Marco Reus came unstuck when asked to name one of the defenders he might come up against on Tuesday. "Olof Mellberg?" A valiant try, but the venerable centre-back retired after UEFA EURO 2012.
Germany had their own period of reflection after this summe's final tournament in Poland and Ukraine, but Friday's emphatic triumph in Dublin is a another sign that their disappointing semi-final exit has been forgotten. "The European Championship ended extremely negatively for us," said defender Per Mertesacker.
"There were more than just a few who suddenly started doubting, because we were not able to make the final step. After the European Championship we needed a bit of time to find ourselves again. Now against Ireland, it all clicked into place. Such successes are good justification that our way is the right one."
The progress of Reus has been a major factor, with the Borussia Dortmund midfielder now a pivotal cog for Germany having been on the fringes over the summer. Two goals against Ireland signalled further substance to his increasing importance. "His shooting technique is outstanding," said Miroslav Klose, a man with 65 international goals to his name. "If I could shoot like him, I might have a couple more!"
Currently deployed on the left, Reus could develop into a 'false nine', a role Löw continues to consider but is yet to trial. "If I play well and work hard, everything else will happen on its own," said Reus. His development makes it an exciting time for Germany fans, with Tuesday's game likely to give plenty more pointers over the direction in which they are heading. Löw will hope it is a road which stops off in Brazil in 2014.
Trajneri i Kombetares se Shqiperise Gianni De Biazi ka shpallur listen e lojtareve te cilet do te jene te grumbulluar per takimin me Islanden ne Stadiumin Kombetar "Qemal Stafa" te premten me ate 12. Ne kete grup trajneri italian ka parashikuar edhe ata qe do te jene ne dispozicion te tij per takimin pas tre ditesh me Slloveniwne po ne Tirane me date 16.10.2012
Beaten in Belarus in midweek, FC Bayern München recorded their tenth consecutive Bundesliga win – a run dating back to mid-April – while FC Schalke 04 eased past VfL Wolfsburg.
FC Bayern München responded to their midweek UEFA Champions League blip in Belarus with a 2-0 home victory over TSG 1899 Hoffenheim − the Bavarian club's tenth successive Bundesliga win.
Franck Ribéry, who scored Bayern's consolation on Tuesday in their 3-1 loss to FC BATE Borisov, opened his domestic account for the season with a low shot under Koen Casteels after 19 minutes. The France winger doubled his and Bayern's tally three minutes into the second half.
The last time Jupp Heynckes' side failed to win a league game was on 14 April when they drew with 1. FSV Mainz 05, who ended ten-man Fortuna Düsseldorf 1895's unbeaten start to the campaign with a 1-0 triumph.
FC Schalke 04 are seven points behind Bayern in third place after a 3-0 defeat of VfL Wolfsburg, Ibrahim Afellay among the scorers, while Hamburger SV prevailed 1-0 at struggling SpVgg Greuther Fürth. Elsewhere, SC Freiburg overcame 1. FC Nürnberg 3-0.
On Friday, FC Augsburg registered their first top-flight win of the season, beating SV Werder Bremen 3-1. Hannover 96 host Borussia Dortmund – now ten points adrift of Bayern – on Sunday, when second-placed Eintracht Frankfurt play VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach and VfB Stuttgart entertain Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
Jorge Jesus said FC Barcelona had "the best two players in Europe and an extra-terrestrial" as Lionel Messi inspired victory at SL Benfica despite a worrying injury to Carles Puyol.
Jorge Jesus, Benfica coach We were up against the best team in the world, a side that has always 70% or more of possession, and that dominate all their opponents. They have only got the two best players in Europe! We played well in the first half and didn't deserve to be losing at half-time. Barça were very effective and that was the difference until they made it 2-0. After that, it was even more difficult.
We had to be more aggressive towards the man that was carrying the ball. That was the message I gave the players, but Barcelona don't lose possession. And then they have an extra-terrestrial [Lionel Messi] that does the rest. The other teams will play against Barcelona and also lose, so they will have the same margin of error as us.
Tito Vilanova, Barcelona coach The win took a lot of effort but despite that we took three very important points here in Lisbon. We are very happy with the result, we haven't managed to win at the home of Benfica recently despite having played here with some great teams.
In the first half they waited to counterattack and with their back line playing high up the pitch it allowed us to look for opportunities to get in behind them. Of course scoring an early goal always helps but this wasn't an easy game for us at all. Alexis Sánchez is continuing to show he is a player who wants to grow. As we saw with Cesc Fàbregas earlier in the season, now is the time for Alexis to push on.
Carles Puyol has now suffered a couple of injuries this season that we might say weren't exactly normal, a broken cheekbone and now a [dislocated] elbow. We'll have to wait and see how long he's going to be out for but he'll be an important loss for us. We are always having problems with central defenders. It has forced us to convert some players into this position.
Looking ahead to Real Madrid, it will be a tough game. What we must do now is to recover from these last two matches and start to think about the encounter against Real Madrid at the weekend.