FC Barcelona Boss: Why Lionel Messi Was Benched

Barcelona fans confused by Lionel Messi decision against Alaves - 'Why tho?'

Barca soon knocked their biggest rivals back out of the title race though by marching 12 points clear of them with a 1-0 victory at the Santiago Bernabeu in March.

Valverde leaving out his captain and star player, presumably with an eye on next week's Champions League semifinal against Liverpool, was a luxury Barcelona has earned and can afford.

Barcelona have almost clinched La Liga for the second straight season and ahead of their match with Alaves, the Catalan giants had a nine-point lead in in the league with five games remaining.

"But regarding the Golden Boot and that sort of thing, we are only focused on what we have to do to win".

Suarez sealed the victory by converting a 60th-minute penalty following a handball confirmed by video assistant referee review.

Second-placed Atletico Madrid are away at Valencia on Wednesday night.

"We'll see. I do not see Atletico relaxing", said Valverde. "I would like to win it on Saturday at home so we can celebrate with our fans, but if it happens tomorrow, it will be welcome as well".

However, missing the action was FC Barcelona's five-time Ballon d'Or victor Lionel Messi as Valverde named a line-up without the Argentine in the playing XI.

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde rested players such as Clement Lenglet, Ivan Rakitic and also Leo Messi, with Arturo Vidal, Samuel Umtiti, Nelson Semedo and Carles Alena all in his starting 11.

The result extended Barcelona's unbeaten streak to 21 matches in all competitions.

They have not lost in the league since November a year ago, when they fell 4-3 to Real Betis Balompie at home.

Alaves were dealt a blow when they lost Diego Rolan on the stroke of half-time, with Darko Brasanac replacing him for the start of the second half.

Michel scored the victor with a shot from outside the area in the 67th minute, ending his team's five-match winless streak.

Tuesday's two remaining matches were significant in the battle against relegation with Huesca giving themselves a slim chance of survival and climbing off the bottom of the table with a 2-0 win at home to Eibar.

On Sunday, Real Madrid make the short trip to struggling Rayo Vallecano, while Getafe visit Real Sociedad in their bid to secure a top-four finish for the first time.

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