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Thursday 24 August 2017

'Sweden are a one man team' - Duff

Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Damien Duff's international career ended in the "disaster" of those three defeats at Euro 2012, but the former Ireland winger believes that Euro 2016 can bring a lot more joy to supporters from this country.

And if Martin O'Neill's side can get a positive result in the opening game against the "one man team" of Sweden, then progress could be made as Duff also pours scorn on the notion of Belgium being ranked as the best team in the world.

"It's a tough group, but not as tough with the Sweden game. If you get off to a good start there, I think anything can happen and for me it all hangs on the Sweden game. They are a one-man-team," says Duff, having watched their 'one man' Zlatan Ibrahimovic knock his former club, Chelsea, out of the Champions League on Wednesday.

Class

"After watching him the other night, I think Ibrahimovic -I didn't realise he was 35 - is ill a class act. But , I don't think the rest of the Swedish team are up to anywhere near his standards. Italy will be a dark horse just because they are who they are and they have a top manager as well.

"Belgium are first in the world. I always find it strange, it doesn't sound right, especially when Fellaini is playing for them, it doesn't sit right again.

"They flattered to deceive in the World Cup so, I don't know. Maybe if they had a bit of what Leicester City have, yeah, I would be all over them. But Benteke, Origi had disappointing seasons, De Bruyne will be coming back from a similar operation to what I had - and I'm still sore and that's two years ago. Fellaini...

"They have amazing players but I don't think they have togetherness that Ireland have. We steam-rolled Bosnia with hunger, desire and hard work and it goes a long way as you can see with Leicester City," added Duff, who admitted that life in the weeks after the return home from Euro 2012 was not easy.

"That summer, coming from home, you possibly didn't want to leave the gaff, coming into town for a few pints, you just wanted to keep the head down. But that's what you do in football. I've had bitter disappointment, I relegated Newcastle with an OG but you move on," he says, upbeat about Euro 2016.

"You have to be positive. I'm not going to be negative. Listen, knowing all the senior lads in the group, I know we had a disaster tournament in 2012 but we were as positive as anyone but after two minutes of the Spain game you might as well have packed your bags. I've no doubt they will be well prepared."

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