Valverde: Messi needed to rest

The Argentina international was only introduced after half-time of Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League clash against Juventus but was unable to inspire Barca to victory as the match finished goalless.

READ: Wednesday's UEFA Champions League wrap

And Valverde, speaking via Barcelona’s official Twitter account, 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."

The result left the Catalan giants still top of Group D and assured of their place in the last-16, although Juventus head into the final round of group-stage fixtures, against Olympiakos, needing to match the result between Barca and third-placed Sporting.