Valverde explains Messi omission

Lionel Messi

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde says his decision to leave Lionel Messi out of his starting XI against Juventus on Wednesday was down to fatigue.

The club’s attacking talisman was a surprise name on the Blaugrana bench for the midweek UEFA Champions League 0-0 draw at the Allianz Stadium in Torino but Valverde eased any concerns raised by fans questioning his omission.

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

Messi eventually took the field of play in the 56th minute as a replacement for right-winger Gerard Deulofeu and after the game, he refused to comment whether he agreed to be benched by his coach.

“These are internal decisions of the coach,” the Argentina international replied bluntly.