Betis visits Barça in Montjuïc this Saturday (9:00 p.m.) and it will be a doubly special game for Marc Bartra. He hopes to get his first official minutes in his second spell with the Green-Whites and against a Barça team he has very fond memories of.
Bartra speaks to SPORT and discusses names like Chadi, Abde, Guido, Xavi Hernández, Lewy, Messi and Víctor Camarasa and the visibility of mental health. This is the interview:
Back to Betis. How do you feel?
Very good. I felt very comfortable at this club and am looking forward to seeing my teammates, the club, the staff and of course the fans again.
You got emotional on the bench the other day with the anthem…
Yes, words are unnecessary when it’s played and sung a cappella, everyone standing, the scarf in the wind… the feeling of being a part of it makes me proud.
Words are unnecessary when the Betis anthem sounds; Being a part of it makes me proud
How are you personally dealing with tomorrow’s game?
Imagine that. It will be my debut again at Betis if the coach decides to use me and also do it against the team that I have been so grateful for for almost 15 years. I’m really looking forward to it, it will be very special.
Have you played in Montjuïc?
I remember that once. It was with the Catalan national team and Johan Cruyff as coach (a 4-0 win against Honduras in 2010).
Does Luiz Felipe’s departure to Arabia open up a big opportunity for you in defense?
I know the responsibility of being a Betis player and from day one I felt that commitment. In my five years at the club there were seasons in which I played more than 40 games. I really appreciate that here at Betis the team is always the most important thing and we are a compact group.
Chadi is very hardworking, he listens to the coach’s advice and also to what I can give him.
One of Betis’ three central defenders is Chadi Riad, on loan from Barça. How do you see him?
I see him as very committed, he listens a lot to the coach’s advice and also to what I can give him. I hope I can help the team a lot and add something together.
And Abde’s reinforcements?
He has great potential, is very good in one-on-one situations, brave and fast. It is a very important commitment for us.
What do you think of Barça’s start to the season?
Well, it seems to me that Xavi is doing a great job and we saw that last season. They have formed a great team.
Xavi is doing a great job, he’s a footballer. When I played with him, I knew he was going to be a coach
When you played with Xavi, did you see him as a coach?
Overall, he is a footballer who dominates the game, positioned both with and without the ball, it has already been seen that he has made a step at a defensive level. And he knows a lot and loves the house.
How to do damage, where do Betis’ options go?
Against Barça we have to give our best, pay attention to all the details and play an almost perfect game. But we already know what it’s like to beat Barça.
Surprised by the talent of young people like Lamine?
Look, we follow each other on social media and I recently wrote to him and told him to stay grounded, that this will lead him to a career, that mentality is the most important thing, even more important than talent. He makes a difference and seems like a very good boy.
I follow Lamine with networks, I wrote to him and told him that staying grounded will lead him to a career
From young people to veterans. Lewandowski could be ahead…
Phew, we had a lot of battles both years in Germany (smiles). He is one of the best and most dangerous strikers in the world.
The best thing for you was always Leo Messi…
I’ve never seen anything like it, it’s a spectacle. I’m glad he’s happy in Miami and I talk to them often because of Busi and Alba. And for “Tata”, who took good care of me at Barça.
I had “fights” with Lewandowski in Germany, he is one of the most dangerous and best in the world
Back to yourself. Have you thought about returning to Barça, do you think it’s still possible?
I think about Betis a lot, I just came back and I’m always focused on the present. I am very grateful for what I experienced at Barça and in the other teams I played for, but now I am where I wanted.
I’ve never seen anything like Messi, it’s a spectacle
After being voted the best player by the fans in Türkiye…
I’m happy with the level I reached, I had to go in a different direction for non-sporting reasons, but as soon as I could I returned to Betis.
Did you have any other offers?
Yes, there was, but it was a decision made with the head and the heart. I feel great appreciation and Mr. Pellegrini knows what he wants from me.
Guido provides a lot of balance and it’s normal that he has offers, but the most important thing is that he is with us
By the way, Guido, Barça’s goalkeeper, plays in midfield at Betis. Would I be able to do this here?
Guido gives Betis a lot of balance and it is normal for other teams to be interested in him because of his quality and potential. What is important is that he is with us and helps us.
Are you aiming to return to the national team?
All my daily work is focused on doing the best for Betis and if that means I can attract the attention of the national team, then of course I feel available when they need me. It is a goal, a challenge that is always within me.
Choosing is a challenge that is always within me
In your first phase at Betis you were teammates with Víctor Camarasa, who now plays at Oviedo and is on leave for mental health reasons. How important is it for society that these cases become known?
I send all my strength to Víctor, he is a very good person and a professional. I see the way Real Oviedo and the player behaved as very positive. The most important thing we have is mental health, and its normalization makes it clear that we are not robots, but humans. It can help a lot of people, not just in football but in life.
I send all my strength to Víctor Camarasa. I see how positive Real Oviedo and the player have been. Mental health visibility allows us to be seen as people and not as robots
How does Bartra strengthen himself mentally when he suffers a setback?
Since I was 17, before I made my debut in the Barça first team, I already had my personal coach and it was very good for me to develop a strong, positive mentality and to continue to develop. I had colleagues who were among the best in the world. The difference to those who also had talent and didn’t get there is the mentality. The key is to recover from a bad moment.
I’ve had a personal trainer since I was 17 and it’s been really good for me to develop a strong, positive mentality and keep moving forward.
But we’ll end with your best moments of your sports career so far. Which ones do you stick with?
With three. The debut and the treble with Barça, the first game with Dortmund after the attack and the Copa del Rey with Betis.