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Real, Barca will have slight advantage with 5 subs rule: Kanoute

Teams will be given “temporary dispensation” to make five substitutions to help with the congested schedule they would face when the season resumes amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, FIFA had proposed.

The Spanish LaLiga is set to resume from Thursday with a local derby between Sevilla and Real Betis and there will be fixtures for the following seven days, with Barcelona hosting Leganes on June 16 and Real Madrid playing at home to Valencia on June 18.

There will be 11 matchdays with 110 games remaining. All games will be played over a period of six weeks from June 11 till July 19 with matches coming thick and fast.

“We have to be honest that big teams have a bigger squad. It means like not 16 players but 25 top players that can rotate and performance doesn't change much,” Malian-French Kanoute, who is one of the LaLiga brand ambassadors, told reporters during an interaction arranged by LaLiga on Wednesday.

“So of course this is an advantage especially in this time where it's going to require a lot of rotation.

“But as I said, I always believe football is played on the field, 11 vs 11. But it doesn't change generally. We remember in 2006-07 when we were close to winning the league, towards the end we got tired as we didn't have too many rotations available. We could not maintain the same rhythm. There were so many competitions also.

“So it's not always a precise science and in football anything is possible.

“I hope they are going to be challenged for the last few games and I hope Sevilla will tickle them a little bit but they will have a slight advantage,” said the 42-year old who has also played for Tottehnham Hotspur and West Ham United in the English Premier League.

Kanoute, who announced his retirement from international football following Mali's elimination from the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations, added that fitness-wise it will be a bit of risk for players coming off a lengthy break due to the global health crisis.

“It is a bit of a fitness risk but I am sure clubs have better medical programs after they return and during the confinement. Normally, when you come back after a really long break, it takes two months to be in top shape. Now they had less time to train with the group. But hopefully a lot of players have been working hard at home. Teams have very good technology now.”

On closed-doors matches, Kanoute, who did have one such experience when a game between Sevilla and Real Betis in 2007 saw crowd trouble and the remaining 20 minutes were played before empty stands, said: “It might affect the players a little bit, but they are professionals and all are eager to get back I am sure.

“Home advantage also won't be so much there as they won't be fans inside stadiums so yes watching football will be different now and I am really looking forward to it.”

–IANS<br>dm/aak/bbh/<br>

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