Valverde explains decision to bench Messi

Ernesto Valverde says he left Lionel Messi out of the Barcelona starting line-up against Juventus as he felt he needed a rest.

The Argentina star was surprisingly dropped to the substitutes’ bench for the 0-0 Champions League draw in Turin on Tuesday, with Barca director of institutional relations, Guillermo Amor, describing it as “a technical decision” and not one made due to injury.

Valverde has now explained he believed Messi would be more useful as a second-half substitute as he expected Juve to be more open.

However, he would not confirm whether it was something he had agreed with Messi in the build-up to the match, with reports in Spain suggesting it had been decided some days ago.

“He has built up a lot of games and we thought this time he could come on for the second half,” said Valverde, as quoted by AS.

“We thought the game was going to be tight at the beginning and then it could be opened up later in the second half. That’s what happened.”

When asked if he had agreed it with Messi this week, he replied: “These are internal decisions of the coach.”