BERLIN - Bayer Leverkusen beware! The team heading your way this weekend will have in their starting line-up a talented playmaker on a high.
RB Leipzig’s Emil Forsberg will walk on to the BayArena pitch a highly-inspired man following his country’s qualification for next year’s Fifa World Cup in Russia. The Swede and his compatriots stunned four-time global champions Italy 1-0 on aggregate in their play-offs for a spot at the finals.
Forsberg was a key figure as the Scandanavians beat the Azzuri in Stockholm in the first leg (just as he has been for Leipzig since joining them from Malmo FF back in January 2015) and then held them goalless in Milan on Monday night.
But before he can start thinking of Russia, Forsberg has to continue his splendid job for a Leipzig side he helped take from the lower leagues of Germany, all the way up to the top flight where they surprised all and sundry by finishing a lofty second on the league in their maiden season.
They are currently in that position 11 matches into the season and will go to ninth-placed Leverkusen expecting to register an eighth win of the campaign.
For that to happen, the 26-year-old from the northern city of Sundsvall in Sweden, will have to be firing on all cylinders - something he has generally done with consummate ease since joining the Saxony club.
He scored eight goals, two short of the top scorer Davie Selke’s return, in the 2014/15 season while his six assists helped Leipzig’s successful promotion to the Bundesliga 2 where he scored eight and made a league-leading 19 assists.
So far so good as Forsberg and Leipzig have clearly settled in the Bundesliga and are giving Bayern a run for their money. They will, however, have to work on tightening their defence that has shipped in a massive 13 goals in 11 matches having lost three of those with one draw.
While they too have resembled a sieve at the back with 16 goals from 11 matches, Leverkusen are pretty lethal going forward as evidenced by the 23 goals they have scored so far.
Forsberg was on the bench in the last match against Hanover 96 but will probably be given a start following Monday’s confidence-boosting World Cup qualification for him and his countrymen.
The weekend’s Bundesliga action gets kick-started by Dortmund, who are away to VFB Stuttgart, while champions and leaders Bayern welcome 10th placed Augsburg on Saturday. Before the international break, Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes had warned the opposition against an onslaught from his team that will likely have all of its top stars back from injury.
Already ruthless since Heynckes’ return to take over from Carlo Ancelotti, Bayern could easily win the title at a canter just like they did in the 2012/13 season with him back in charge.
Then, the Bavarian outfit won a remarkable treble that included both the German Cup and the Champions League.
Leipzig and Forsberg though, will not let Bayern have it all their way and will believe they can keep the four point gap between them and the champions from growing any bigger.