Barcelona not handicapped by rule on substitutes: Diego Forlan
Ex-Atleti striker says onus is on Setien to exploit opportunity to make 5 changes
Two-time La Liga top scorer Diego Forlan disagreed with Barcelona coach Quique Setien's assessment that increasing the number of substitutions allowed may disadvantage his side.
The Spanish top flight, which resumes tomorrow morning (Singapore time) after being suspended since March 23 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will feature some rule changes for the remaining 11 rounds.
Key of which is the number of substitutions allowed being increased from three to five, with global governing body Fifa explaining the change "has been made as matches may be played in a condensed period in different weather conditions, both of which could have impacts on player welfare".
La Liga's packed schedule will see matches played every day until the end of the season on July 19.
Explaining how the new rule could hinder his side, Setien said: "It will harm us, because of our way of playing. In many games, we will resolve (it) in the final minutes.
"If you give opponents the option of fresh players coming on in that time, the weakness that is generated with tired players will not occur."
His stance has been supported by former Real Madrid player Jorge Valdano, who noted that Barcelona's passing game aims to "tire out rivals to capitalise on technical superiority in the final minutes".
Valdano also added that the La Liga champions had a "very shallow bench".
Former Manchester United, Villarreal and Atletico Madrid striker Forlan admitted that Barca have a less "experienced" bench than Real, but disagreed that the five-replacements rule would hinder Setien's side.
Instead, he suggested that the onus is on the Barca coach to use the substitutions to influence the game in his side's favour.
The La Liga ambassador, who is coach of Penarol in his native Uruguay, told The New Paper in a conference call yesterday: "No, I don't agree... when you have so many changes... You can change a game in a good way or in a bad way.
"So it depends on the game. I don't think it will be an advantage for the other team...
"I don't think it will advantage anybody... Everybody is in the same (position)."
Barcelona legend Rivaldo concurred, saying Setien's comments did not make sense to him, adding: "A squad like Barca or Real's are much stronger than most of (the) other teams and they can easily decide matches in just 45 minutes as they have tons of talent in their ranks, compared to other clubs."
Forlan, who won the Golden Ball as the best player at the 2010 World Cup, however, does admit that it is advantage Real in the title race, despite Barcelona holding a two-point lead at the top of the table.
Said the 41-year-old: "Maybe (the advantage) is a little bit more (towards) Real. They have a more experienced bench than Barcelona.
"Barca have a smaller squad, (but) you never know, those young players can replace other players and do really well... Or they may not need to use those players because all (of) the (first) team are fit for the 11 games."
Barcelona resume their season away to Real Mallorca on Sunday morning, while Real take on Eibar at home a day later.
Forlan said he did not believe that Real playing their remaining games at the 6,000-capacity Estadio Alfredo di Stefano rather than their Santiago Bernabeu home, which is undergoing renovation, will impact their title chances too drastically.
He said: "It's going to be totally different playing against Real, maybe that won't be the best for them.
"But, with this kind of team with great players, wherever they play, they perform well."
The 112-cap former Uruguay striker did, however, say it would be intriguing to see how players from La Liga's so-called lesser lights react to playing without fan pressure.
Forlan said that playing without supporters would make "no difference" to Real, Barca and Atletico, but added: "It will be interesting to see how the small teams will play in those stadiums (like the Nou Camp and Wanda Metropolitano).
"Sometimes, the pressure of the fans, the atmosphere and everything really play against those teams."