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Leaving Lionel Messi on bench ‘difficult’: Valverde

  • Ernesto Valverde admitted benching Lionel Messi was a tough decision
  • Barcelona star Messi a surprise omission from the line-up against Juventus
  • Valverde vindicated as Barca secured a 0-0 draw to ensure they top the group 

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde admitted starting with Lionel Messi on the bench against Juventus was a tough decision.

Argentina superstar Messi was a surprise omission from the starting line-up in Turin with Barcelona still needing a point to secure their passage into the last 16.

Ultimately Valverde was vindicated as Barcelona secured a 0-0 draw to ensure they will top the group.  However, he was grateful to a late save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen which denied Paulo Dybala a winner.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde admitted benching Lionel Messi was a tough decision

Argentina superstar Messi was a surprise omission from the starting line-up against Juventus

Argentina superstar Messi was a surprise omission from the starting line-up against Juventus

Valverde was vindicated as Barcelona secured a 0-0 draw to ensure they top the group

Valverde was vindicated as Barcelona secured a 0-0 draw to ensure they top the group

Messi did come on in the 56th minute and shortly afterwards curled a free-kick over, but he was unable to break the deadlock.

Valverde said: ‘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 also sent a message of support to Sevilla coach Eduardo Berizzo. Sevilla confirmed Berizzo has prostate cancer after their dramatic 3-3 draw with Liverpool on Tuesday evening.

Valverde also sent a message of support to Sevilla coach Eduardo Berizzo, who has cancer

Valverde also sent a message of support to Sevilla coach Eduardo Berizzo, who has cancer

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 Olympiacos 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 Olympiacos for the win.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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