Football year 2022 looks to be getting better by the week for goalkeeper Mark Flick. The most important weeks so far are upon us now.
Bocholtzenaar is in contention with his club SC Freiburg for the Champions League and the goalkeeper is individually hoping to secure his place under the crossbar with the Dutch national team.
At the beginning of June, four Nations League matches are scheduled in Orange against strong opponents Belgium, Poland and twice Wales. The Nations League matches are the last and most important confrontation of the Dutch national team towards the World Cup in Qatar next November. And so national coach Louis van Gaal wants to start with the strongest possible team.
Naturally, Flex wants to become the number one goalkeeper and get his chance in the friendly match against Denmark and Germany. In those duels he made a dubious impression when he scored a Danish goal, but he showed above all that he had exceptional qualities in playing football. Which is exactly why Van Gaal was drafted, and he may continue to be drafted.
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But above all, Flick is the only Orange goalkeeper who currently maintains his playing fields for and with his club. Originally first choice Justin Bigelow has been out of circulation for weeks due to injury and will not attend Feyenoord’s minutes in the coming weeks. Bijlow is still a candidate for the World Cup goalkeeper role, but will have to fight against Fleks, among others.
Tim Krul is decent and the first choice in Norwich City, but one cannot speak of a good season: Krul and Norwich have already been relegated from the Premier League a few rounds before the end. The 34-year-old had to hit an average of two shots per game, of course thanks to his not-too-close defense. Kruls Oranje’s chances appear to be dwindling.
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The same may also apply to Flek’s other competitors: Joël Drommel and Jasper Cillessen. Drummel lost his starting place in Eindhoven to Yvonne Mfugo last month and is now on the bench in Eindhoven. Valencia goalkeeper Cillessen was injured for a while, but once he recovered he couldn’t regain his starting spot. He was overtaken by Georgian Giorgi Mamardashvili in hitting order, and so Cillessen is now 10th on the bench in Spain.
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Meanwhile, Flick is the undisputed goalkeeper with the number 4 in the Bundesliga: SC Freiburg. Even after two errors against Bayern at the beginning of April and six goals against him in the previous two games, he is undisputed. The reason for this: Felix still has the highest save rate of any goal in the Bundesliga, emerges as one of the best goalkeepers in the league by all other criteria, and has helped Freiburg get where it is today.
And that is in addition to a place in the cup final, thus finishing fourth in the competition. This position gives the club the right to participate in the Champions League, which would be an unprecedented achievement for FC Freiburg. But there are still kidnappers on the coast: With two games remaining, RB Leipzig has one point less than Freiburg, 1 point less than FC Köln, and Union Berlin four points less.
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Freiburg will play against the latter club on Saturday, so Felix and his teammates can take the opponent into their own hands. On the last day, there is a match against another team seeking a Champions League ticket: Bayer Leverkusen, who are third, three points behind Freiburg. Of course, securing football in the Champions League would be a great scenario for Flick, but the task could also be completed next Saturday.
And when the competition is over, Felix and Freiburg will continue to hunt for medals in the Cup Final in Berlin on May 21, against Leipzig. It would be the end of a memorable season for a number of Freiburg players, but for Flick, four caps for the Dutch national team will follow, if all goes well. It is up to the goalkeeper to consolidate his standing in the coming weeks.
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