PRAGUE, June 5 (Reuters) - Czech Republic midfielder Tomas Rosicky’s resurgence in form has come at the right time for the national team whose fate at Euro 2012 rests on their diminutive captain’s shoulders.
Hampered by injuries in the past few years, Rosicky shone as he helped his club Arsenal qualify for the Champions League. He scored his first league goal in two years during the north London derby against Tottenham Hotspur in February.
Rosicky is expected to be fit for the opening game against Russia on Friday but an injured calf that kept him out of their last two warm-up matches has left the Czechs sweating over the crafty midfielder’s participation in the tournament.
“Some players would be difficult to replace,” Vladimir Smicer, the Czech team manager and former Liverpool player, told Reuters. “If Rosicky is injured, it would be a big missing piece for us.”
Known for his vision, pinpoint passing and first touch, the player dubbed “Little Mozart” during his spell at Borussia Dortmund is the man the Czechs are counting on to orchestrate a successful tournament.
As well as Russia, the Czechs face co-hosts Poland and former European champions Greece in Group A at the tournament which is also being staged and Ukraine.
Czech coach Michal Bilek must have breathed a sigh of relief after the 31-year-old Rosicky, who missed Euro 2008 due to injury, found his form after recovering from a hamstring problem that had limited his outings for club and country.
Rosicky, who made his international debut at 19, has scored 20 goals for the national side and the experienced midfielder causes headaches for opposing defenders and makes the Czechs a far more dangerous side when he is fully fit.
Rosicky, Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech and Galatasaray striker Milan Baros are the only remaining players from the side that reached the Euro 2004 semi-finals. (Additional reporting by Jason Hovet, Editing by Tim Collings and Mike Collett)