Juventus v Barcelona
There was a major shock when Barcelona’s team sheet was released for Wednesday night’s Champions League match at Juventus.
Leo Messi wasn’t in the starting eleven.
Barcelona XI: Ter Stegen, Semedo, Piqué, Umtiti, Digne, Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta, Paulinho, Deulofeu; Suárez.
Juventus XI: Buffon; Barzagli, Rugani, Benatia, Alex Sandro; Pjanic, Khedira; Cuadrado, Dybala, Douglas Costa; Higuain.
Messi was left on the bench for the match in Turin along with Jasper Cillessen, Aleix Vidal, Thomas Vermaelen, Jordi Alba, Denis Suarez and Paco Alcacer.
Why Leo Messi was dropped?
The simplest explanation for Messi’s absence was that Ernesto Valverde wanted to keep his Argentine star fresh.
Barcelona had all-but qualified for the Champions League knockout phase prior to kick off against Juventus.
Moreover, Barcelona face an enormous match next weekend in the Spanish top flight when they take on second-placed Valencia.
Valencia, remember, aren’t in Europe this season. That means Los Che have a full week to prepare to take on the Catalans.
With the stakes at a slightly lower ebb away at Juventus, that’s the likeliest reason why Messi was given the night off.