Luis Enrique says Barcelona's La Liga title hopes will go down to wire

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique was impressed with a "serious performance" from his team after they took another step towards retaining the La Liga title with a 2-0 win at Real Betis on Saturday evening.

For the second week in a row, Barca began with Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid having both leapfrogged them in the table. But they finished the day back on top with just two games to play and could even secure the title next weekend at home to local rivals Espanyol.

Barca's task was made easier when Betis centre-back Heiko Westermann picked up two quick yellow cards before half-time. Then five minutes after the break, Blaugrana midfielder Ivan Rakitic capitalised on a mix-up between home keeper Antonio Adan and defender German Pezzella to open the scoring, with the game remaining open until Lionel Messi set up Luis Suarez to clip in the second late on.

With just two games now remaining, Barca are back ahead of Atletico on head-to-head record, and one point ahead of still-third-placed Madrid. Should both their challengers slip up next weekend, the Catalans could even clinch the title at home on Sunday evening.

Asked at his post-match news conference about the chance to wrap up the title a week early, Luis Enrique said he felt it would all go down to the wire on the final day.

"There is less to play all the time," Luis Enrique said. "It's a very competitive league and I think the three candidates are all very strong. We are all having a great season, all playing well. I don't think anyone will slip up.

"We must do our own work, we depend on ourselves. I am sure that against Espanyol the Camp Nou will be packed."

Barca were again lacking the fluency in their play shown earlier in the season, something which Luis Enrique put down to how well organised Betis had been in defence.

"We did not suffer in defence, but it is always difficult against a team who are well organised like Betis," he said. "The first half was more about making the effort, breaking the rocks, in the second we had an extra player of course.

"We made many chances, and as we were playing with the pressure of needing the win, so I think we did very well."

Although his side had created very few chances until Westermann was booked twice in seven minutes for fouls on Messi and Rakitic, Luis Enrique said he had been happy with his team's performance through the entire 90 minutes and expectations from some fans and pundits were unrealistic.

"I liked my team for the whole game," he said. "We played a very serious game, against a team who sat back for the whole game. The surface was not good for either team to play football on. So I did like my team.

"We did not suffer in defence. I would like to win all games 8-0, but it is not possible. You [pundits] have got the wrong idea. To win a league is very difficult. We never said we had won this league."