One of the great pleasures of a FIFA World Cup is when previously unheralded players penetrate global consciousness to such an extent that they will be household names forever: think of Colombia's James Rodriguez, now of Bayern Munich, in 2014, or Germany's Mesut Özil, then of Werder Bremen, four years earlier.
Peering long and hard into its crystal ball, bundesliga.com has selected five Germany-based candidates who could be this summer's breakthrough star in Russia. When it happens, don't say we didn't warn you.
Joshua Kimmich, Bayern Munich and Germany
Preparing for his first World Cup, Kimmich should continue his inexorable international rise: after making his Germany debut just a month prior to UEFA Euro 2016, the Bayern defender was named in the Team of the Tournament having helped Joachim Löw's side reach the semi-finals in France. Then, in qualifying for Russia (during which he recorded a team-high nine assists – from right-back), Kimmich broke a record held by none other than Franz Beckenbauer by appearing in 24 straight international games. Little wonder Germany fans voted him as the nation's player of the year for 2017.
If tongues aren't already wagging about Kimmich's precocious, multifarious talent, they will be after this tournament. The 23-year-old will naturally be on the front foot in the group matches Germany are expected to dominate, but don't think he will take a backward step when the big boys come around: Kimmich scored in both legs of the UEFA Champions League semi-final against Real Madrid, showing his affinity for the grandest stages and ability to put even the most feared opposition to the sword.
Watch: Sit back and enjoy all of Kimmich's Bundesliga goals and assists!
Corentin Tolisso, Bayern Munich and France
Given the players who have been left out (Anthony Martial, Kingsley Coman, Alexandre Lacazette, Adrien Rabiot), just getting into the star-studded France squad can be considered an achievement in itself. There was never any real doubt, though, that Tolisso, who has enjoyed a fine debut season after joining Bayern for a club-record transfer fee last summer, merited a spot in Didier Deschamps' 23-man Russia-bound selection.
If the France coach persists with his favoured 4-3-3 as expected, then there will be a place as a No8 up for grabs in midfield alongside Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante. What will count in Tolisso's favour is his eye for goal: only Robert Lewandowski (40) and Thomas Müller (15) have scored more than the Lyon youth product's 10 goals in all competitions this season.
The noises from Deschamps indicate that Tolisso, long one of the coach's favourites, will get a chance in midfield and – similarly to club-mate Kimmich – his performances this season point to him taking it: the 23-year-old found the net twice against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League and against Bayer Leverkusen on his top-flight debut. In a forward-thinking France side geared towards creating chances, Tolisso could prove the tournament's fresh-faced star turn.
Emil Forsberg, RB Leipzig and Sweden
Even if he hasn't hit the heights of his maiden Bundesliga campaign in 2016/17 (a league-high 19 assists, supplemented by eight goals), Forsberg will – at the very least – come into the tournament fit and fresh after suspension ruled him out of the final three games of Leipzig's season.
Sweden's only genuine sprinkling of stardust following the retirement of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Forsberg bore both the goalscoring and creative burden (four goals, two assists) as the Blagult set up a play-off against Italy en route to Russia. The 26-year-old had his back firmly against the wall alongside his colleagues in both legs, but Sweden have been rewarded for their defensive efforts with a wide-open race for second place against Mexico and South Korea.
Indeed, in what are likely to be tight, well-balanced affairs, Forsberg – if he can reprise the form of last season, and there is no reason to believe he can't – could well be his side's trump card. His inside knowledge of the Germany defenders ahead of the Group F meeting in Sochi will no also doubt be welcomed by his team-mates.
Amine Harit, Schalke and Morocco
One of the tournament's potential surprise packages, Morocco's charge will be bolstered by the lithe running and omniscient vision of Schalke's Harit. The France-born 20-year-old has enjoyed a fine debut campaign (three goals, three assists) in Gelsenkirchen under the tutelage of Domenico Tedesco. His darting runs in behind that have been such a feature at the Veltins Arena will cause no end of problems for ageing Spanish and Portuguese backlines, unaccustomed to playing on the turn.
Indeed, Harit's propensity for drawing fouls in the box will certainly keep Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique (not to mention Bruno Alves, Jose Fonte and Pepe, combined age of 105) on their toes. The youngster is not short of confidence in his own ability, either, having held off more senior colleagues before converting a crucial spot-kick in a 2-0 win at Stuttgart earlier this season.
Capable of playing wide, as part of a midfield three or as a second striker, Harit's versatility offers Atlas Lions coach Herve Renard several options, while his work ethic and decision-making are much improved after a year in Tedesco's unsparing Schalke training sessions. Harit, who only switched allegiance from France to Morocco last September, could set the tournament alight.
Andrej Kramaric, Hoffenheim and Croatia
Hoffenheim reportedly rejected a €30million bid for Kramaric earlier this season. It proved to be a wise decision as the Croatian – statistically the most productive forward in the Bundesliga since his arrival from Leicester City in January 2016 – ended the campaign with four goals in three games to propel the club into third place (a highest-ever finish) and the Champions League.
Approaching the tournament on a high, Kramaric, who scored in the 4-1 play-off win against Greece en route to Russia, stands to benefit from Mario Mandzukic falling out of form and favour at Juventus and lead the line for the Vatreni this summer.
His explosive brand of forward play could prove the difference in a well-balanced Group D (Argentina, Nigeria, Iceland). Indeed, given how Kramaric has thrived at Hoffenheim, the prospect of him linking up with Real Madrid duo Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic, Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic and Inter Milan's Ivan Perisic is mouthwatering.
Watch: Kramaric scored a fine hat-trick in Hoffenheim's Matchday 32 win against Hannover!