By 90Min
November 23, 2017

Ernesto Valverde has explained why he decided to make a shock decision and drop Lionel Messi to the bench for Barcelona's clash with Juventus on Wednesday.

La Blaugrana played out a goalless draw with I Bianconerni in the Champions League, and many fans and pundits were left surprised when the team sheets showed that the legendary Argentina international was not part of the starting lineup.

In quotes attributed to him by ESPN after the final whistle, Valverde revealed that he had opted to give Messi a breather against Juventus - before deciding that he needed him to come on after 55 minutes to try and change the outcome of the result.

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He said: "Messi's fine. It was a difficult decision. He feels a great deal of responsibility within the club and the team.

"But he has played a lot of games and eventually he had to have a to rest. We thought it would be a tight game and then it would open up. The idea was he could come on in the second half, with the game more open. That was the decision."

Juventus boss Max Allegri also offered his opinion on the massive call, and admitted he had been thrown by Barcelona's decision not to start their playmaker.

He added: "I've been facing him since 2010. It's been 13 games and this is the first time that I have seen Messi sat on a bench.

"I worried a little when I saw he was coming on, but my lads did a good job keeping him quiet."

Gerard Deulofeu replaced Messi in the starting lineup before he was substituted for the Barca superstar just shy of the hour mark.

It is the first time that Messi has been replaced in Barcelona's first choice XI since October 2016 - the 30-year-old coming off the bench in the 4-0La Liga win over Deportivo on 55 minutes following a muscle injury lay off.

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