Cup final: RB Leipzig and the Forsberg factor

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With his only cup goal of the season, Emil Forsberg paved the way for his club to the final against SC Freiburg. This time the veteran also wants to put his stamp on the final and win the first title with RB.

Late ecstasy: Forsberg heads Leipzig into the 2022 cup final against Union Berlin in injury time

His expression: extremely annoyed. Substitute bench instead of starting eleven for Emil Forsberg –  and that of all things in the cup final against Borussia Dortmund. When he came on in the 62nd minute, RB was already 0: 3 behind, the trophy was gone. That's how it was last year.

The 30-year-old hopes things will be different in this year's cup final (Saturday, May 21, 20:00 CEST) against SC Freiburg. “I always want to play from the start. But in the end it's the coach who decides,” says Forsberg in the best professional football language. One thing is clear: the longing for a title is particularly great among the veterans of Leipzig such as Forsberg, Peter Gulasci, Yussuf Poulsen or Willi Orban. They have already lost two cup finals. There probably won't be many more attempts. And after FC Bayern and Dortmund, Freiburg is an opponent who doesn't seem to be overpowering this time. “It's going to be a tough fight,” Forsberg expects, “we'll do everything we can and try to have a better day than our opponent”.

Zlatan's successor in Sweden

Forsberg comes from a Swedish footballer family. Both father and grandfather played for GIF Sundsvall. But they didn't make it as far as Emil. In December, the national player was voted Sweden's footballer of the year, succeeding Zlatan Ibrahimovic. So the rather small fine spirit from the midfield follows the storm colossus. Technically highly versed, it is sometimes accused of its lack of robustness. At 1.77 meters tall, he's also anything but a headball monster. But he scores when it counts. With a header in stoppage time against Union Berlin, he got Leipzig into the final in the first place. “A tremendous feeling,” he enthused afterwards, while 47,000 RB fans hugged each other in the stands.

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In his seven years at Leipzig, Forsberg has already scored over 1,000 competitive goals. Including important ones, like the 1-0 win against Karlsruhe, with which he gave RB promotion to the Bundesliga in 2016. Nevertheless, he is by no means set with coach Domenico Tedesco. “He's a flag, a legend here in Leipzig,” Tedesco praised the Swede effusively after the dramatic entry into the final, only to let him stew on the bench for 90 minutes in the lost Europa League semifinals in Glasgow shortly afterwards.

Tedesco and Forsberg: no guaranteed starting place

Precious joker or Forsberg factor right from the start?

It will be exciting how the trainer approaches the final  decides. In the current Bundesliga season, Forsberg came off the bench a total of 15 times, although he doesn't like the role as a substitute. However, RB seemed to run out of breath at the end of the season, fourth place in the league was just secured. It is possible that this will tip the scales in favor of Forsberg in the starting XI. After a muscle injury in winter, he is getting better and better. And another quality of the Swede could be decisive for the final: Forsberg is a safe penalty taker. In the current season he has transformed everyone. Including a penalty against Freiburg.

  • DFB-Pokal: RB Leipzig on the way to the first title

    Beginning on the village square

    In 2009, Red Bull wants to become a club sponsor in German football. Since renowned clubs such as St. Pauli and 1860 Munich refuse to cooperate, the beverage company moves to Leipzig. The takeover of traditional club Sachsen Leipzig fails due to DFB and fans. So you join SSV Markranstädt, take over their license and start as a lawn ball sport in Leipzig in the Oberliga Nordost.

  • DFB Cup: RB Leipzig on the way to the first title

    Overqualified

    RB gave the Bundesliga as a medium-term goal right from the start and hit the transfer market right away. The team will be populated with players who could normally play several leagues higher than just fifth division. The most prominent newcomer is ex-national player Ingo Hertzsch (2nd from left).

  • DFB Cup: RB Leipzig on the way to first Title

    The man in the background

    Head behind the investment in Leipzig is Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz. In addition to RB Leipzig, the Austrian billionaire also sponsors Red Bull Salzburg, the Formula 1 racing team Red Bull Racing and many trend sports. In Germany, his commitment is controversial: the organization of the club with almost no members and thus no co-determination of the base provokes many football romantics.

  • DFB-Pokal: RB Leipzig on the way to the first title

    Promotion under protest

    Appropriately unfriendly the kickers of RB Leipzig are received at away games. Many opposing fans do not agree with the “construct” RB, against which their clubs have no chance. In the beginning there were even cancellations of games. RB's path is still steep. In the very first season, the “Brauseklub” is promoted to the regional league.

  • DFB Cup: RB Leipzig on the way to the first title

    Decisive personnel

    In 2012, RB hired Ralf Rangnick (left) as sporting director and thus finally set the course for a great future. With Alexander Zorniger (r.), Rangnick is bringing a new coach with him, with whom in 2013 he was promoted to the 3rd division and in 2014 also directly to the 2nd division.

  • DFB Cup: RB Leipzig on the way to the first title

    Best player material

    In the 2013/2014 third division season, there were two players in the RB squad, Joshua Kimmich (right) and Yussuf Poulsen (left), who are now among the top players in the Bundesliga. In the two following second division years until 2015, players like Emil Forsberg, Lukas Klostermann, Marcel Halstenberg, Willi Orban and Peter Gulacsi were added, who still form the core of the team today.

  • DFB Cup: RB Leipzig on the way to the first title

    The boss takes over

    After two years in the 2nd division, RB Leipzig has achieved its goal: seven years after the first competitive game in Markranstädt, promotion to the Bundesliga is certain. The promotion coach is none other than Ralf Rangnick, who, in addition to his position as sports director, has also taken on the job of coach on an interim basis. In the Bundesliga, however, he makes the place on the bench free again.

  • DFB-Pokal: RB Leipzig on the way to the first title

    Successful premiere

    Under the new head coach Ralph Hasenhüttl, the first season in the Bundesliga is very successful: Leipzig doesn't play like a normal promoted team, but establishes itself in the top group of the table right from the start. In the end, Hasenhüttl's team finished second behind FC Bayern and ahead of Borussia Dortmund. RB celebrates the runner-up.

  • DFB Cup: RB Leipzig on the way to the first title

    Arrived in the premier class

    Since then, RB Leipzig has been in the European Cup every year: three times in the Champions League and once in the Europa League. In September 2017, Emil Forsberg (left) scored Leipzig's first European Cup goal in the club's first international appearance, the home game in the group stage against AS Monaco.

  • DFB Cup: RB Leipzig on the way to the first title

    Just look, don't touch!

    RB is parting ways with Hasenhüttl for the 2018/2019 season. Since the designated successor, Julian Nagelsmann, has another year under contract with Hoffenheim, Ralf Rangnick once again takes over as head coach. He leads RB Leipzig to the DFB Cup final. However, in the final in Berlin, Bayern are too strong and win the pot. Rangnick and Leipzig can only look longingly.

  • DFB -Pokal: RB Leipzig on the way to the first title

    New duo

    Before Julian Nagelsmann (l.) starts his service at RB, Rangnick will leave the club in the summer of 2019. Markus Krösche (r.) will be his successor as sporting director. Under the new duo, RB established themselves as Bayern pursuers, made it into the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2020 and reached the DFB Cup final for the second time a year later. This time Leipzig is defeated by BVB.

  • DFB-Pokal: RB Leipzig on the way to the first title

    Performance drop under march

    RB's successes qualify Julian Nagelsmann for the coaching job at FC Bayern. In the summer of 2021, Jesse Marsch will therefore succeed Nagelsmann in Leipzig. But the tactics that the American prescribed for his team do not suit many players. When RB is only eleventh after 14 match days, the club pulls the ripcord: March has to go.

  • DFB Cup: RB Leipzig on the way to the first title

    Upswing under Tedesco

    Marsch's successor Domenico Tedesco (fourth from right) puts Leipzig back on the road to success . Under the former Schalke coach, the “Red Bulls” qualify for the Champions League in fourth place. In the Europa League, the team narrowly fails in the semi-finals at Glasgow Rangers – and in the DFB Cup it goes all the way to the final, where the longed-for first title could be waiting at the end.

    Author: Andreas Sten-Ziemons