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Valverde explains decision to rest Messi

Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has been forced to explain his decision to rest Lionel Messi for the 0-0 draw with Juventus on Wednesday evening.

It was a game played in almost a friendly spirit with both Barca and their Italian opposition all-but certain of a place in the next round.

Juventus will be forced to play the final group game against Olympiacos, but they will have comfort in the Catalan’s unbeaten start to the domestic season which sees them top the group.

Messi was left out of the Barca starting eleven, meaning Gerard Deulofeu had his chance along with Luis Suarez up front.

And, Valverde has spoken about his decision to rest the Argentine.

“Messi? He’s fine. He’s played a lot lately and it’s true that there have been times when we’ve thought about resting him or bringing him on for the second half, ” he told reporters following the game.

“We also expected the game to start tightly and open up as it went on. After that, we came to the decision. These are things that the Coach decides internally.”

Deulofeu carved Barca’s first chance of the game, but Paulinho failed to get on the end of the Spaniard’s cross.

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The Brazilian midfielder was then booked for a dive in the area, whilst Paulo Dybala had the home side’s best chance, blazing over Marc Andre ter-Stegen’s goal.

The German keeper has been the stand-out performer for Barca this season and he was tested once more in the second half by Dybala, saving well down to his right.

Messi, who came on for half an hour, did very little but steadied the Barca side, ensuring they kept their unbeaten run going.

“We came here with the intention of winning and picking up three points,” he said.

“We played with character because they’re a team that press you a lot. When they have space, they can hurt you because they have quality, but there were many times when we dominated them, except towards the end.

“We controlled the game, we’re happy and we’re top of our group. It’s what we wanted.

“We gave the impression of a solid team. Sometimes we try to win for 90 minutes and carry the weight of a game, but when there are three minutes left, we also know how to protect that one point, which keeps us top.”

Barca will now face Sporting Lisbon in their final group game.

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