Slovakia star questions England’s ability to handle pressure in last-16 Euro 2024 clash

Slovakia star questions England’s ability to handle pressure in last-16 Euro 2024 clash

Slovakia star Ondrej Duda questioned whether England can handle the heat of a major tournament as he plots an early Euro 2024 exit for Gareth Southgate’s team.

Duda and his team-mates will be underdogs in Gelsenkirchen on Sunday as England try to get their bid for glory back on track after an underwhelming performance in the group phase.

Yet Duda, who had a short stint with Norwich in 2020, hopes Slovakia can exploit the stress Southgate’s players are under to cause a shock that would be similar to Iceland’s victory over England at this stage eight years ago.

‘I watched and heard the noise around David Beckham when he played for England back in the day and for me sometimes it’s too much,’ said Duda, speaking exclusively to Mail Sport via Zoom from Slovakia’s training camp in Mainz.

‘If you play for England it’s extremely difficult. They’re under a lot of pressure and many of them are still young players. I’ve played against a lot of them. They’re in a process of learning how to handle that and they have to handle it.

Slovakia star Ondrej Duda has questioned how England will handle the pressure at Euro 2024

The Three Lions are under growing pressure after an underwhelming start to the tournament

The Three Lions are under growing pressure after an underwhelming start to the tournament

‘Maybe it can be an advantage for us. It’s one game – 50-50. I don’t know what will happen but I can guarantee I’ll leave everything on the pitch and that goes for every one of my team-mates.’

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Duda is part of a three-man midfield who will try to keep Jude Bellingham on the fringes of the game. After an excellent opening match against Serbia, the Real Madrid star has struggled to find top form, often cutting a frustrated figure.

Duda faced Bellingham when he was at Hertha Berlin and his opponent played for Borussia Dortmund. He gave a fascinating insight into facing the 20-year-old in close combat.

He said: ‘I don’t think a lot of opponents like him on the pitch. He annoys you a lot and shows his emotion during the game – but who cares? I guess a lot of players might not like me on the pitch.

‘The most important thing is what you do for your team and you don’t need to worry about what opponents think of you. I don’t know him off the field but he seems a good guy.’

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