Emil Forsberg has become a household name in German football this season after making the step up from the second division as smoothly as his club RB Leipzig. Leipzig will finish their first ever season in the top flight in second position behind only run away champions Bayern Munich. Forsberg has been the key component in the newcomers rise to the very top to continue an upwards career trajectory taking him from northern Swedish forests to the Champions League.
Forsberg first made a name for himself in Sweden at GIF Sundsvall. After establishing himself in the first team he impressed enough to earn a move one of Sweden’s biggest clubs, Malmö FF, where he won the league twice and appeared in the Champions League group stages. The creative attacking midfielder scored 14 goals in his final Allsvenskan campaign and had interest from various leagues and clubs. His decision to sign with RB Leipzig was almost ridiculed in Sweden. Why would you leave Sweden’s best club for the German second division? The answer was Ralf Rangnick and his ambitious project. Three seasons later we can easily call it a clever career move from Forsberg.
He’s been a revelation this season and one of Bundesliga’s best players with eight goals and 18 assists to his name so far. Here we take a look at his attributes and what he gives Leipzig, especially in the final third.
First of all, Forsberg take superb set-pieces which makes him an important asset to have in the squad. His corners are whipped in with speed making them easier to attack because only a slight touch is needed to steer the ball towards goal. His free-kick taking is also of the highest order, as he demonstrated away at France when his dipping strike totally wrong footed Hugo Lloris.
With sixteen assists this term, Forsberg is Leipzig’s main creator. From his position on the left of Leipzig’s attacking quartet in their 4-2-2-2, Forsberg has the freedom to move inside and mainly positions himself in the left half-space. He has the freedom to move across the attacking third though, and has the skillset to appear both wide and centrally. His passing is superb and he reads the game brilliantly to always be a step ahead of his opponent.
As you see in the video above, Forsberg floats across the pitch before finding the right position to play the final pass. He can also create chances with traditional crosses, as demonstrated below.
With his passing ability in tight situations impressive, Forsberg also has the ability to dribble his way out of pressure. His acceleration and pace can quickly transfer him over big distances and his excellent technique and nimble footwork can see him get out of crowded areas effectively.
In the video below you see a few examples of Forsberg dribbling at full flight.
Forsberg also uses his pace to get in behind the opposition’s defensive line. This makes him an even greater attacking threat as he can create with passes, dribble through or run in behind
Forsberg doesn’t only create goals, he scores them too. He loves shooting from positions in the left half-space, his half-space, where he can curl his shots towards the far post or hit them with power. His way of striking the ball both with the inside to get the curl and his laces to get the swerve and dip on the ball makes him a nightmare for goalkeepers.
Here are a few shots from the left half-space where Forsberg thrives.
Below is a superb solo goal from Forsberg against Bayer Leverkusen.
Emil Forsberg has developed into one of the best attacking midfielders in Germany and Sweden are relishing the emergence of a new top class attacker after Zlatan Ibrahimovic’ decision to quit the national team last summer. Forsberg plays a similar role for Sweden as he does for Leipzig as he’s also positioned in the left half-space albeit in a 3-5-2-formation when attacking. Forsberg has quickly replaced Ibrahimovic as the main man for Sweden and his performances for RB Leipzig has seen his market value soar. With plenty of big clubs interested in his services this summer, Leipzig will have to hold on to their prized asset.