After reaching the semi-finals of the 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championships, Germany are one of the favourites for this year's World Cup. Toni Kroos is one of the reasons for this optimism. Just 24 years old, he is one of the most exciting attacking midfielders in Europe.
Kroos started his career at Bayern Munich, but it was a loan spell at Bayer Leverkusen which established him as a Bundesliga prospect. It was while on loan at Leverkusen that he received his first call-up to the Germany squad, in January 2010.
He played on a very, very high level. That was real Champions League level. We all want him to prolong [his stay], and he also wants that, I am very positive about it. The club, we all want that. Big players always show up for the big games
– Pep Guardiola
On his return to Bayern Munich, it was Bayern's Dutch coach Louis van Gaal who gave Kroos his chance in the Bayern first team, where he quickly established himself as an excellent attacking midfielder, known for creating chances. He has been linked with a move to Manchester United this summer, in part because of his relationship with Van Gaal.
He has, however, scored only five goals in 42 Germany appearances, and has never scored more than nine goals in any season. Germany do have other midfielders who provide a goal threat, with Julian Draxler, Mesut Ozil, Mario Gotze, Marco Reus and Andre Schurrle also in the squad. However, with Sami Khedira only just returning from a serious injury that has kept him out for months, Germany might be vulnerable to more attacking sides.
Kroos missed the final months of Bayern's 2012/13 season, meaning he was unable to play in the Champions League victory against Borussia Dortmund. The World Cup is an excellent chance for him to impress in front of a global audience.