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.

Although 2014 World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger is no longer on the international scene, Joachim Löw has a more than capable heir in Bayern Munich's Swiss-army-knife midfielder Sebastian Rudy.

Who is he?

Rudy was left out of Germany's 2014 World Cup and UEFA Euro 2016 squads, but started every game at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia. His first piece of major silverware in hand, he then won the Supercup and Bundesliga title in his debut season at Bayern, and also scored the goal that helped clinch Germany's place at the 2018 World Cup finals, in a qualifier against Northern Ireland.

Will Confederations Cup winner Sebastian Rudy (No.21) make it a Russian double at the World Cup? © imago

Domestically, Rudy's a veteran of over 230 Bundesliga appearances. The 28-year-old spent his formative years at VfB Stuttgart, before picking up a serious head of steam at Hoffenheim, captaining the side in his final 18 months at the south-west club. He joined Bayern on a free transfer in summer 2017, and has not looked a jot out of place in the company of champions.

What position does he play?

Rudy has played across the midfield and at right-back down the years, but it's in front of the defence, in a deep-lying midfield role, where he is at his most effective.

Sebastian Rudy turned out 35 times in all competitions for Bayern Munich in 2017/18. © imago / Ulmer

His role in qualifying

Rudy made just the three appearances in qualifying, coming on as a late substitute against Azerbaijan and starting wins over Norway and Northern Ireland.

What to look for in Russia

Rudy was brought in for Sami Khedira for the must-win group game against Sweden, only to be taken off prior to the Swedes' opening goal with a suspected broken nose. Assuming he can play with a mask, expect to see him anchoring the midfield as long as Germany are in the competition.

What they're saying

"We don't need to talk about his qualities as a footballer - he's exceptional" - Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann

"He knows exactly what he’s doing, he's a very intelligent footballer. He loves to play, offers safety in possession and is a good tackler. He's the stabilising factor for Bayern and Germany" - Former Bayern sporting director Matthias Sammer

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