Ernesto Valverde explains why Lionel Messi was benched against Juventus

Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde has revealed that it was an easy decision to bench Lionel Messi during his side's 1-1 draw versus Juventus in the Champions League on Wednesday night. The Argentina international surprisingly started from the bench in the stalemate and Valverde later confirmed that he wanted to rest the forward after a prolonged run of games.

He told AS: "He has built up a lot of games and we thought this time he could come on for the second half. 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." And when asked on Messi, he replied: These are internal decisions of the coach."

With Messi out of the picture in the first period, chances were far between for the Catalan giants, who struggled to impose themselves at the home of the Serie A champions. Nonetheless, the La Liga leaders secured their place in the last 16 of the Champions League with 11 points after five matches played.

Barcelona shot-stopper Marc-Andre ter Stegen made a match-winning save off Paulo Dybala in the dying stages of the game, and Valverde was pleased with the alertness of his goalkeeper after 90 otherwise quiet minutes, he added: "We came with the intention of winning and we played with personality. We dominated for long spells, except in the final few minutes, in which they had the play and had the chance with Dybala."

The club's focus will not turn to the Spanish La Liga where they face a testing clash against second-placed Valencia. Los Che have been one of the surprise packages of the campaign, and they are one of only three clubs including Atletico Madrid and Barca themselves to have not lost a game. With the match scheduled at the Mestalla, Valencia are unlikely to make things easier for Barcelona, but a victory would enhance the club's chances of extending their lead at the top of the standings. Lionel Messi played just 35 minutes from the bench against Juventus and he will be fresh for the Sunday night clash.