Toni Kroos approached Tuesday's World Cup semi-final clash with Brazil knowing a special performance would be required to take Germany to their first final since 2002.
He duly delivered, producing a man-of-the-match display to orchestrate one of the most shocking routs in World Cup history and further boost his reputation as one of the most desirable playmakers in Europe.
Goal casts an eye over the 24-year-old's performance and what the future holds for this special talent...
|PERFORMANCE AGAINST BRAZIL
Even without Neymar and captain Thiago Silva, the task of beating Brazil on home turf required Germany to be at their most nerveless and ruthless. They did not disappoint.
And Kroos embodied his team's best qualities, linking together many of the moves which humiliated the hosts. It was his pinpoint cross which gave Thomas Muller the opportunity to fire Germany in front on 11 minutes.
The 24-year-old then slipped the ball into Muller's path again in the build-up to Miroslav Klose's record-breaking goal, before netting twice himself as Brazil capitulated in front of their own fans.
But to measure the contribution of Kroos's entirely by his role in the goals would be to do him a huge disservice. The Bayern Munich star provided poise and precision throughout, standing out even in an exceptional Germany midfield.
No player on the pitch attempted (71) or completed (66) more passes on the pitch, while only Mesut Ozil bettered his passing contribution in the final third. It was, quite simply, a masterclass.
|HE'D BE PERFECT FOR...
Based on his form over the past 18 months, Kroos would grace any team in the world. From a purely footballing perspective it is slightly baffling that new Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal sanctioned the signing of Ander Herrera over a player whose exceptional gifts he witnessed up close while in charge at Bayern.
Similarly, while Chelsea made a huge statement by bringing Cesc Fabregas back to London after three unsatisfying years at Barcelona, it is arguable that Kroos would be a more natural fit alongside Nemanja Matic at the base of Jose Mourinho's new-look Blues midfield.
Arsene Wenger has high hopes that both Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere will mature into world-class talents, but Kroos would be a huge upgrade on any of the passing options Arsenal have in central midfield.
Manchester City have built a midfield based more on overwhelming power and athleticism than relentless possession, but as Steven Gerrard's remarkable career at the top level approaches its end, Liverpool would do anything to find a playmaker worthy of inheriting his status as leader of the team.
|WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
Contract talks between Kroos and Bayern ground to a halt long before the World Cup, and the questions over his future are highly unlikely to be resolved before the end of the tournament.
Bayern have been unwilling to match the 24-year-old's wage demands, but his hand will only be strengthened by his ongoing excellence, particularly if Germany return home with the World Cup.
The signing of Ander Herrera marked the end of Manchester United's interest, while Chelsea moved instead for Cesc Fabregas. Manchester City have other priorities and Liverpool do not appear to be in the discussion.
All of which means that if Kroos exits Bayern this summer, his likeliest destination is Spain. On June 30, Marca reported that Real Madrid had already reached an agreement to sign Kroos for £24 million.
At that price signing the 24-year-old is an absolute no-brainer, although with Luka Modric and Xabi Alonso already at Santiago Bernabeu it is difficult to see where Kroos would fit in.
That said, Florentino Perez has an insatiable appetite for world-class players and, at any rate, it is likely that Carlo Ancelotti has encountered worse problems.