The Irish legend didn’t feel comfortable assessing Stephen Kenny’s side’s chances of doing any better than Slovakia.
Damien Duff has spoken a lot of sense in his role as a pundit for RTE’s Euro 2020 coverage this summer but this was one topic he didn’t want to comment on too definitively.
After Spain finally claimed their first win at Euro 2020 with a 5-0 rout over Slovakia on Wednesday night, an interesting subject was raised in RTE studios.
It was put to Duff that the Republic of Ireland could hypothetically have put up a tougher challenge against this Spain side but the former Chelsea winger dealt with the awkward question with great honesty.
Duff recalled his own struggles against Spain when Ireland faced La Roja at Euro 2012 and therefore refused to claim that the Boys in Green would have fared any better than Slovakia against this Spain team.
“Shoulda, woulda, coulda,” Duff said on RTE. “Whoever knows? But in 2012, I think I touched the ball three times in 90 minutes and lost 4-0.
“We never left the edge of our box so I don’t think I’m best placed to comment on that.”
Duff studied Slovakia closely as part of his now-former duties as Ireland assistant last year.
Ireland played Slovakia in their Euro 2020 qualifying play-off semi-final last October and when no winning goal could be found for either side in 120 minutes, it was Slovakia who progressed after a penalty shootout victory.
“All I’d say is that the Slovakian team are definitely not in a good place,” the 42-year-old added. “They changed their manager last October or November, after beating us.
Slovakia were the side to end Ireland's Euro 2020 hopes, but would Stephen Kenny's charges have put up a better display against Spain? Damien Duff has his say. #SVKESP #SWEPOL #EURO2020 #RTEsoccer
📱 Live updates – https://t.co/I4g1uzzjTk
📺 Watch live – https://t.co/wQsvKI41BU pic.twitter.com/6nGrdrob8z
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) June 23, 2021
Damien Duff speaks about Slovakia
“Obviously, before the play-off game against Ireland, I remember watching all of their games and they dominated some good teams all over Europe.
“That’s a shadow of their former selves today. For me to say that we would have done better, as I say, after 2012 I don’t think I should comment.”