• La Liga confirms schedule for remainder of the season

    La Liga has confirmed dates for the remaining match days of the season as Spanish football edges closer to a resumption following the coronavirus shutdown.

    The kick-off times for the opening two rounds of games have also been announced, with the Seville derby between Sevilla and Real Betis the opening match on Thursday, June 11 at 10pm CET.

    Leaders Barcelona travel to Real Mallorca in their first game back on Saturday, June 13. Second-placed Real Madrid against Eibar and Athletic Bilbao vs Atletico Madrid are among the eye-catching matches on Sunday, June 14.

    A full set of midweek matches follow, including Barcelona vs Leganes on Tuesday, June 16 and Real Madrid against Valencia on Thursday, June 18.

    One of the standout fixtures remaining in the calendar is Barcelona against Atletico Madrid, which has been scheduled for Wednesday, July 1.

    Weekend fixtures will kick off at 5pm, 7.30pm and 10pm (CET), with the earliest kick-off slot reserved for games played in the north of the country where summer temperatures are cooler. A fourth kick-off slot of 1pm will also be used when weather conditions are favourable. Midweek matches meanwhile will kick off at 7.30pm and 10pm.

    The authorities hope to complete the remaining 11 matchdays in just five weeks, with the final round on matches set to take place on Sunday, July 19.

    Though the matches will be played behind closed doors, La Liga has asked fans to upload a recording of themselves applauding their favourite team. The recordings will then be mixed together and played over loud speaker in the 20th minute of their team’s matches.

    “Supporters in the stands make football complete but now, due to reasons beyond their control, they won’t be able to be there,” La Liga president Javier Tebas said.

    “We have created this initiative to help fans be a part of La Liga’s return and also as an opportunity for them to show their support for the heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic. We want them to feel close to their team, even if they cannot be in the stadiums cheering them on, and for players to feel the support of their fans.”

    The Spanish top flight joined most major leagues across Europe in suspending matches in March as the continent battled to contain the spread of coronavirus. Authorities have since spent the past few months exploring ways to conclude the campaign safely while the pandemic continues.

    With the rate of infection in the country slowing, prime minister Pedro Sanchez gave the green light for football to return in a public address last weekend, allowing La Liga administrators to ramp up their preparations to return.

    Teams returned to training at the start of the month and have been gradually training in larger groups, with full team sessions able to take place from June 1.

    The Bundesliga became the first major league to return earlier this month, with the Premier League hoping to return on June 17 and Serie A on June 20.

    France’s Ligue 1 and the Netherlands’ Eredivisie were the only major European leagues to abandon their seasons because of the pandemic.

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