Germany are bidding to win the FIFA World Cup for a record-equalling fifth time this summer, and become the first nation to win back-to-back crowns since Brazil in 1962.
That Bayer Leverkusen’s very own baby-faced attacking menace Julian Brandt made it into Joachim Löw's Germany squad was not a surprise to seasoned Bundesliga watchers who have long admired the 22-year-old's role in one of the most exciting Werkself sides in recent years. His twinkled-toed forward forays one of many assets waiting in reserve should Die Mannschaft require a fresh spark in Russia, Brandt will be itching to reproduce his sparkling domestic form if called into action at the finals.
Who is he?
Formerly a winner of the prestigious Fritz-Walter Gold Medal - awarded to the most talented young players in Germany - Brandt has been producing the goods for so long in the Bundesliga and beyond, it seems he has been around forever. Snapped up by Leverkusen from the Wolfsburg youth ranks, the versatile winger was playing UEFA Champions League football against the likes of Paris-Saint Germain as a 17-year-old while collecting a winner's medal at the UEFA European Under-19 Championship.
His powerful forward running, neat close control and delicate finishing have been on display for five senior seasons now and the disappointment of narrowly failing to make it into Germany’s squad for UEFA Euro 2016 has been made up for with a call-up this time around. With 32 goals and 34 assists in 172 games all competitions for B04, Brandt has also managed to chalk up 15 caps for Germany, three of which came during last year's winning run at the FIFA Confederations Cup.
What position does he play?
Brandt’s versatility would be a boon to any team, playing equally well as he does on the left and right wing or through the middle as a second striker.
Watch: Just who is Leverkusen star Brandt?
What was his role in qualifying?
Brandt enjoyed three starts in Germany's qualifying campaign, managing a total of 269 minutes in all during his five appearances. Initially coming on to replace Mario Götze and then Julian Draxler in back-to-back fixtures, the Leverkusen man impressed sufficiently to earn three subsequent starts and produced a goal and an assist as Germany advanced.
What to look for in Russia
With Löw likely to choose from attacking options among Marco Reus, Julian Draxler, Thomas Müller and Mesut Özil, Brandt will look to take advantage of his chance when called from the bench. Should a change of tactical plan be required, however, don't be surprised to see the Leverkusen No10 play a starting role on the right. Either way, get ready to watch Brandt run at defenders and open up space in front of goal in order to poke through that precision pass or find the target himself.
What they're saying
"He's exactly the sort of player the national team coach is looking for; he's flexible and can play in several different positions" - Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich
"He’s one of the most talented players in German football" - Leverkusen sporting director and Germany legend Rudi Völler