Czech Republic goalkeeper Petr Cech has urged his teammates to raise their game in Tuesday’s match against Turkey after losing captain Tomas Rosicky to injury at the European Championship.
Rosicky suffered a partial tear of a thigh muscle in Friday’s 2-2 draw with Croatia, ruling the Czechs’ inspirational playmaker out of the tournament.
“It’s a big loss, he’s one of the key players,” Cech said on Monday, as the team prepared for its decisive Group D match against the Turks at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis in Lens.
“But the other players will have to step up, and the team will have to step up,” Cech said. “We don’t have big stars. Our team spirit is usually the biggest strength. As a team, we will have to make up for the loss.”
Rosicky’s career for club and country has been marred by repeated injuries and the 35-year-old midfielder made only one appearance - as a 71st minute substitute - for Arsenal last season.
His absence against Turkey is a major blow, with the Czechs having only one point on the board and needing to win on Tuesday to have a realistic chance of reaching the last 16.
However, coach Pavel Vrba remained upbeat about his team’s prospects.
“We managed to play well without Tomas Rosicky in many qualifying games, and I believe we’ll be able to do it again,” he said.
Vrba declined to say who will replace Rosicky in the play-making role.
Among the options are Sparta Prague’s creative midfielder Borek Dockal or Vladimir Darida, who has had a good season with Hertha Berlin in Germany’s Bundesliga. However, Darida is a different kind of player. Rosicky is the team’s brain, while the tireless Darida is its engine.
Vrba said there would be other changes, but didn’t go into details.
David Lafata, who failed to impress against Croatia as a lone striker, is likely to be replaced by Tomas Necid or Milan Skoda, two substitutes who scored a goal each to salvage a 2-2 draw in that game.
The Czechs and Turks met in a thrilling match in the group stage of Euro 2012, with Turkey coming back from two goals down to win 3-2 after the Czech Republic collapsed in the last 15 minutes.
A rare blunder by Cech, when he fumbled a simple cross three minutes before time, allowed Turkey to level for 2-2 before going on to win the game.
On Monday, Cech made it clear that game belonged to history.
“The matches (then and tomorrow) have nothing in common whatsoever,” he said.