Messi needed to be rested

a group of baseball players playing a football game: Getty © Provided by BSkyB Getty

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde says he needed to give Lionel Messi a rest after leaving him on the bench against Juventus.

Messi was missed by his Barcelona team-mates, as they struggled to create chances without the Argentine on the pitch.

Valverde eventually relented and brought Messi on in the second half but even he could not change the outcome as the two sides played out a goalless draw.

Valverde said on Barcelona’s Twitter feed: “Leaving Messi out was difficult.

“But he has played a lot this season and today we saw a long and tough contest, so we thought a rest would do him good.”

Valverde took time to send a message of support to Sevilla coach Eduardo Berizzo, who is suffering from prostate cancer, his club confirmed after their dramatic 3-3 draw with Liverpool on Tuesday evening.

Valverde added: “I want to send a gesture of support to Eduardo Berizzo.

“We are behind him as is all the club. We all love football and we are passionate about it but at times we forget there are more important things.”

Juventus will qualify for the last 16 unless they fail to beat Olympiakos in their final game and Sporting Lisbon beat Barcelona away.

Dybala reflected on his late chance and said on the club’s website: “We had our chances tonight and it’s a pity that shot in injury time didn’t go in.

“We now focus on our next matches and we’ll go to Olympiakos for the win.”

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