Sebastian Rudy: From Germany outsider to midfield staple | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 06.10.2017
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Sebastian Rudy: From Germany outsider to midfield staple

Sebastian Rudy's brilliant strike helped Germany qualify for the World Cup and furthered a growing reputation. He has slowly risen up the ranks to the point where he is one of Joachim Löw's top options in midfield.

Sebastian Rudy's second-minute strike against Northern Ireland was a powerful moment in his Germany career.

Not only did it help secure the country's qualification for the World Cup, but it was also a well-deserved reward for the Bayern Munich midfielder, who has clawed his way to a prominent position in one of the world's best national teams .

Read more: How Germany's players rated against Northern Ireland

Rudy was left out of Germany's 2014 World Cup squad. He was left out of the squad that competed at the 2016 European Championship in France. But his patience may now be rewarded as he seems in a good position to land one of the 23 spots in Germany's squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

"He is a really good player – great technique, good vision for his teammates and strong shooting skills, like we just saw," Jerome Boateng said of Rudy after Germany's 3-1 win against Northern Ireland.

Settling in midfield

Versatility was once regarded as the 27-year-old's best quality. In his career, he has played all over midfield and on the right side of defense. His flexibility bought him regular game time – he has played at least 25 games per season since joining Hoffenheim from Stuttgart in 2010.

Fußball WM Qualifikation 2018 Nordirland vs Deutschland (Getty Images/Bongarts/A. Hassenstein)

Goalkeeper Michael McGovern could not get a hand to Sebastian Rudy's spectacular shot

But that aspect of his game didn't get him anywhere with Germany because he didn't excel in one position. Germany coach Joachim Löw used him mostly as a defender or a right-sided midfielder at the beginning of his national team career – which coincided with the retirement of Philipp Lahm. He did not prove to be a better option than Joshua Kimmich or Emre Can, the two equally-versatile players Löw brought to Euro 2016 instead of him.

Then came Julian Nagelsmann, who made Rudy the central figure of Hoffenheim's midfield. The young coach sat Rudy in front of the defense as Hoffenheim's deep-lying midfielder. Rudy put together his best season in that role, recording seven assists in 32 Bundesliga games. Löw then used him in the same manner with the national team, and the midfielder helped lead a "watered down" Germany team to the Confederations Cup crown.

Opinion: Don't fall in love with Germany

Onto the big stage

Before that, in January, Rudy agreed to join Bayern once his contract with Hoffenheim expired at the end of the 2016-17 season. The move appeared to be a signing designed to add depth to Bayern's squad, but once Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso announced he would retire at season's end, Rudy was billed as his replacement.

Audi Cup 2017 FC Bayern Muenchen-SSC Neapel (picture-alliance/dpa/S.Simon)

Sebastian Rudy (right) moved to Bayern Munich with Hoffenheim teammate Niklas Süle (left) before the season

"It was a brilliant chess move by Bayern to get him," Sandro Wagner, who was Rudy's teammate at Hoffenheim, said on Thursday. "It hurts us that he doesn't play for us anymore."

Though there is a lot more competition for starting places in Munich, Rudy has played in all but two of Bayern's 11 games this season. In September, he was the midfield partner for three-time Champions League winner and World Cup champion Toni Kroos. On Thursday, Löw again chose Rudy to anchor his midfield with Kroos.

Rudy may have benefitted from the fitness troubles of Ilkay Gündogan, Sami Khedira and Julian Weigl, all of whom have participated in a major international tournament. But when Löw is deciding who he is going to take to Russia this coming June, Rudy will undoubtedly be a strong contender.

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