Ernesto Valverde's decision to rest Lionel Messi backfired as Barcelona were fortunate to escape with a 1-1 draw against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, after Munir cancelled out Óscar De Marcos' first half opener for the visitors.

With the Catalonian side 1-0 down in the 55th minute, Valverde was forced to bring on Messi in desperate search for an equaliser. The Argentinian once again proved his importance as he provided the vital assist for Munir's leveller in the 84th minute.

Speaking to Bein Sports, Barcelona's manager shouldered the blame for the result because of his decision to rest Messi: "It's my absolute responsibility."


"We have four games in ten days and I thought that Leo [Messi] and [Sergio] Busquets had to rest. I knew it was a risky decision, but if it had gone well, you wouldn't be asking me about it."

However, despite being without Lionel Messi and Sergio Busquets, Valverde refused to believe that his starting eleven was not good enough to win the game against Athletic Bilbao.

On Barcelona's official website, the Spanish manager explained: "We have a big enough squad to rotate the bench. Today the team never lost their grip on the match."

Barça are now three games without a victory in all competitions, and Valverde accepts that his team must improve on their recent performances.

"We knew that Athletic were going to put us under deep pressure from the very start today and that this season we have been letting in some rather absurd goals. But there are other things we need to keep doing." 

The Catalonian giants face a daunting test against Tottenham Hotspur in the midweek, and all eyes are now firmly fixed on the Champions League clash.

"We have another difficult game coming up on Wednesday but we need to take a big step forward in the Champions League. The team has a strong sense of responsibility and we'll be giving everything we've got against Tottenham."