International Round-Up: Pedro praises Spanish versatility; Lahm wary of Ibrahimovic; Balotelli back from illness


Pedro praises Spanish versatility

Pedro believes his hat-trick in Friday's World Cup qualifying victory for Spain in Belarus displayed the versatility of the defending champions ahead of tomorrow's visit of France. The Barcelona striker's performance reduced record scorer David Villa to a 15-minute cameo off the bench, while Fernando Torres was unused.

"We are lucky to have many players who can adapt," said Pedro. "We are very clear about our philosophy and ideas, anyone can step in and do well, and it doesn't affect the national team's way of playing."

Andres Iniesta is expected to return for Vicente del Bosque's side who are on a run of 24 straight qualifying wins. France prepared for the match with a 1-0 friendly defeat at home to Japan.

Lahm wary of Ibrahimovic

Captain Philipp Lahm has insisted that Germany will take nothing for granted against Sweden tomorrow despite his side's impressive performance in Friday's 6-1 victory over Republic of Ireland.

"It will be a tough job against opponents who are organised, tactically clever and have an outstanding striker in [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic," said Lahm. "He is the complete striker, the complete package."

Sweden, like their hosts, boast a 100 per cent record in Group C. The Bayern Munich defender added: "Sweden are our toughest rivals in the group. We have to be able to withstand pressure, break forward very quickly. If we allow few chances then we will win."



Balotelli back from illness

Mario Balotelli is expected to return to the Italy squad for tomorrow's visit of Denmark after the forward missed Friday's win in Armenia with flu.

"Balotelli has responded well to tests," team doctor Enrico Castellacci said yesterday.

The Manchester City striker, 22, pulled out of the Azzurri squad for their two opening World Cup qualifiers, against Bulgaria and Malta last month, after undergoing laser surgery on his eyes.