It was in Aue, a small mountain town near the border with Czech Republic, that Emil Forsberg fully understood he had got into something a little different. His debut for RB Leipzig had gone badly: they had not expected to lose 2-0 to the struggling local side, Erzgebirge, and they had certainly not banked on being pelted with snowballs by home supporters at full time, forcing them to run for the tunnel. In the stands two banners had compared his new club to “Nazis” and it was some way for a new arrival from Sweden to receive his first taste of life in Germany’s second tier.
“That’s maybe when I became a bit more aware that this club was hated here in Germany,” Forsberg says, specifically referencing those icy missiles. There are many who will never accept RB Leipzig’s existence and it stings all the more given that, in the five years since then, their momentum has been virtually unchecked. Forsberg is sitting in a classroom at the club’s training centre and hopes this will be the biggest half-season of his career. Julian Nagelsmann’s side sit second in the Bundesliga, a point behind Bayern Munich and a valid bet to win the title, and on Wednesday will face Tottenham in their first-ever Champions League round of 16 tie. Anybody who hoped they would be short-lived arrivistes is not going to get their way.