VALLADOLID: Barcelona manager Quique Setien has admitted that striker Lionel Messi needs rest but the club could not afford to do that on Saturday as they scraped a 1-0 win over Real Valladolid.
Arturo Vidal netted the decisive goal in the 15th minute with Messi claiming his 20th league assist of the season in the process.
Despite dominating possession, Setien's side struggled to wrap up the victory with Messi being forced to play the full 90 minutes.
"Of course. I've said it before, but the score was too tight. If we'd have scored more goals in the first half, maybe more players would've been rested. The team was tired," Goal.com quoted Setien as saying after the match when asked whether Messi needed a rest.
Setien further explained that if Barca could have scored more goals in the first half then more players would have been rested in the game.
"They had players up front with quality and committed men forward. We couldn't cover the whole pitch. We had to drop back and that made it more difficult for us. We should've put the match to bed in the first half - we could've scored two or three goals. [There was] the anxiety of knowing that you're only 1-0 up and that they can score at any moment. In the second half, we struggled. We noticed fatigue in some players to a point," Setien said.
Luis Suarez was given rest on Saturday with the Uruguayan striker named on the bench and ultimately coming on just after half-time as Antoine Griezmann was forced out.
"It's good to give him a rest. Suarez had played five full games in a row and had to rest at some point. [Griezmann] came off because of some [injury] problems. He asked to come off himself," Setien said.
Barcelona is now one point behind La Liga lead-runners Real Madrid in the title race. Barca will now play against Osasuna at Camp Nou on July 17.