Real Betis defender Marc Bartra is looking forward to taking on former club Barcelona at Camp Nou on Saturday afternoon.
Betis have enjoyed a mixed start to the new LaLiga season but find themselves in seventh place after a strong 3-1 defeat of Elche in Seville this past Sunday.
The Andalusians have shown signs of improvement under new coach Manuel Pellegrini, and if they can get a result in Catalonia they’ll ride a so-far insurmountable hurdle this season – felling a top team.
A key player for Betis will be Marc Bartra, a 29 year-old centre-back from Sant Jaume who came through Barcelona’s La Masia before leaving for Borussia Dortmund in 2016. Bartra joined Betis two years later, and has been capped 14 times for Spain.
Speaking to The Athletic, Bartra explained the changes the experienced Pellegrini has made. “He wants us to play out from the back, whenever we can,” he said. “But if it is not possible, then the spaces are in another area of the pitch. He has asked me to be very focused on the defensive side, and I am doing that well. I would have liked to have known him years ago.
“At the moment I am very happy. The fewer things a coach asks from you in an attacking sense, the more focused you can be on the defensive side. My main priority has always been to defend, that is what I like doing, and that is what the boss mainly asks me to do. Then, with the ball, you can add some things too.”
Bartra explained that he’s looking forward to locking horns with the club that brought him through and introduced him to the world of senior football. “I have lots of friends there,” he said.
“It is where I grew up, where I passed many years of my life. It is always special to return there. I believe it will be a great game. It’s true that Barca have been finding it difficult to get results [in LaLiga] but they are creating chances, they are a very attacking team. We also believe we can play a good game, so it will be a good battle and an attractive game to watch, for sure.”