Barcelona can move to within two victories of winning back-to-back La Liga titles if they are victorious on their trip to Real Betis, leaving Martin Montoya in an unusual situation.
With no Champions League distraction after their quarter-final exit at the hands of Atletico Madrid, Barca know that wins over Montoya’s Betis, local rivals Espanyol and Granada over their final three games will secure the title.
There is no margin for error, though, with Atletico only behind them on head-to-head record and Real Madrid sitting just one point back in third.
Following a shock run of one win in six games that threatened to derail their season, Barca have responded emphatically with 8-0 and 6-0 triumphs over Deportivo La Coruna and Sporting Gijon in their last two outings.
They will be expecting to continue that streak against a Betis side who have gone nine league games against Barcelona without a win, losing each of the last five fixtures.
But Juan Merino’s side have suffered just one defeat in their last eight at home and still need a point to be mathematically certain of avoiding relegation, suggesting Luis Enrique’s men are not in for an easy ride.
Defender Montoya is on loan at Betis from Barca and revealed his torn loyalties as he wants to beat his parent club on Saturday, while still hoping they triumph in La Liga.
“I want Barcelona to win it [the title], that’s obvious,” said the 25-year-old. “I am defending Betis jersey, though, and as a player and professional, I want to play and win every game.
“I want to win this weekend. I owe everything to this badge and I have to defend it until the end. Let’s hope that Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid lose so Barcelona win the league.”
Montoya knows only too well how strong Barca’s squad is and told his Betis team-mates they will have to produce a game without any mistakes to halt them.
He continued: “It is going to be tough – we are playing against the best team in the world.
“We are going to give our best so we can give our fans a good time. We couldn’t do it in the derby [at Sevilla], let’s see if we can this week.
“If Barca play well, it is going to be very difficult and we need to be perfect to stop them. Then we will also need some luck.”
Luis Suarez comes into the game on sensational form for the visitors, having scored four goals against both Deportivo and Sporting to take his goal tally to 34 in La Liga and 53 in all competitions this season.
Key Opta Stats:
– Real Betis have not won any of their last four home games against Barcelona in La Liga (D2 L2), but they have scored at least once in each of the last 12.
– Luis Enrique has won each of his three La Liga games as a manager against Betis.
– Barcelona are the team in the top five European leagues with the most games having been awarded at least two penalties this season (three).
– Ruben Castro has been involved in six of the last nine Betis goals against Barcelona in La Liga (five goals and one assist).
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