Arshavin wins battle of No. 10s at Euro 2012
It's Andrei Arshavin 1, Tomas Rosicky 0.
The second game of the European Championship between Russia and the Czech Republic pitted Arshavin against his Arsenal teammate Rosicky, with both players captaining their countries and wearing the coveted No. 10 shirt in their first head-to-head at international level.
Rosicky has had a much better season at club level, but Arshavin came away the clear winner in Wroclaw.
By setting up one goal and ruffling the Czech defense throughout, the diminutive playmaker guided the Russians to a comprehensive 4-1 victory that lifted them top of Group A.
''Andrei played a very good game, worked hard,'' Russia coach Dick Advocaat said. ''And it's very important for the team that he can play.''
After the Russian withstood early pressure from the Czechs, Arshavin started a move in the middle of the field in the 15th that resulted in the first goal by Alan Dzagoyev. Nine minutes later, Arshavin provided a precise throughball for Roman Shirokov to make it 2-0.
Arshavin continued to show other moments of brilliance, supplying teammates with pinpoint crosses and passes.
At the other end, Rosicky lacked his usual precision after returning this week from a calf muscle injury, and couldn't offer an effective answer.
''He showed how dangerous he can be,'' Rosicky said of his opponent. ''He doesn't waste time with defending and uses all his strength for the attack.''
Last season, the two stars found themselves in an opposite position.
''Little Mozart,'' as Rosicky is known, finally delivered for Arsenal after a series of injuries left him sidelined for long spells and was rewarded for his impressive form with a new contract. He played in 38 matches, more than in any other of his previous years with the English club and again became a starter who can make a difference.
At the same time, the Russian forward struggled this season and was booed when coming on as a substitute at home against Manchester United in January. A month later, he returned to hometown team Zenit St. Petersburg on loan from Arsenal.
Rosicky won the toss Friday, but when the two captains shook hands before the start, it was the last time he had a reason to smile.
''We have to learn from the lesson we were given,'' he said.