For the third time already this season FC Augsburg owe a massive debt of gratitude to their goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz for the points they have achieved. The win against Bayern would not have happened without him and any thoughts about replacing him as the club’s number one should now be miles away from the Fuggerstadt.
Sadio Mané was denied, Leon Goretzka was denied, Jamal Musiala was denied and Leroy Sané was denied at the WWK Arena as Augsburg kept Bayern goalless. They were all denied by keeper Gikiewicz before his most important save of the match denied Manuel Neuer’s bullet header in the 94th minute. If ever the term ‘Fußballgott’ was required, it was for Gikiewicz on Saturday.
Just a week earlier he had secured another three points for his side against Werder Bremen at the Weser Stadion when saving an injury time penalty from Marvin Ducksch. That wasn’t his first penalty save of the season having denied Mainz’s Aaron Martin (in a 2-1 loss). He was instrumental in Augsburg’s win over Bayer Leverkusen at the Bay Arena on matchday 2.
Rewind to the summer and it wasn’t however clear that the 34-year-old Polish custodian would actually be between the posts for Augsburg this season. Rumours abounded that the club wanted to bring in Finn Dahmen from Mainz as the new first-choice goalkeeper. The move however didn’t materialise and Gikiewicz’s performances have now led the club to start new contract talks.
Self-confidence is not something Gikiewicz lacks as his efforts to encourage the Werder ultras onto the pitch for a fight showed last week. “We don’t need to talk about my self-confidence” he said after the Bayern win. “It’s right up there. I try to enjoy every game. I don’t know what will happen in the summer. Perhaps this was my last home game against Bayern- I don’t know.”
His contract runs out next summer, but on the back of his early season displays, Augsburg manager Stefan Reuter has declared that he is “super happy” with Gikiewicz and intends to start contract negotiations “in due course.”
Finn who? There is only one number one at FC Augsburg and his name is Rafal ‘Fußballgott’ Gikiewicz.