AYER 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 four­time global cham­pi­ons Italy 1-0 on ag­gre­gate in their play-offs for a spot at the fi­nals.

Fors­berg, just as he has been for Leipzig since join­ing them from Malmo FF back in Jan­uary 2015, was a key fig­ure as the Scan­dana­vians beat the Az­zuri in Stock­holm in the first leg 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 ninth­placed 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.

“This club wants to be the best, and I want to be the best,” he said in March 2016, flush with the con­fi­dence a three-year con­tract ex­ten­sion through to 2021 brings.

“I have de­vel­oped all the time and have a ma­jor role in the club. It’s per­fect for me.

“I have much more to give and I want to give it to the club.”

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 on- slaught 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.

Leipzig’s Emil Fors­berg.

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