STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Winger Emil Forsberg heads to the World Cup finals in Russia ready to step out of Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s shadow and take over the mantle as Sweden’s main attacking threat.
After a slow, steady rise through the Swedish club scene with Sundsvall, the 26-year-old burst on to the European scene with Malmo in the Champions League and was soon snapped up by Bundesliga side RB Leipzig.
He went on to establish himself both in Germany and in the national team but it has not all been plain sailing.
Much was expected of him at Euro 2016 in France but together with the rest of a misfiring Sweden side he failed to deliver and they were sent packing after the group stage.
The departure of Ibrahimovic from the international stage and the arrival of Janne Andersson as coach have been positive developments for Forsberg, who has been given the number 10 shirt and is shouldering much of the responsibility for Sweden’s attack.
With mobile, willing runners in front of him in the shape of Marcus Berg and Ola Toivonen, Forsberg has an array of options that did not exist when the more static Ibra led the line.
He netted four goals as Sweden nabbed second place in their qualifying group ahead of the Netherlands, and his tireless running was instrumental as they edged out Italy in a two-legged playoff.
A red card and subsequent three-match suspension at the end of the Bundesliga season have given him plenty of rest before the World Cup and he should arrive in Russia fresh and ready to go.
Results in qualifying have shown that when Forsberg is on form, Sweden can get a result against anyone.
Editing by Peter Rutherford