Turin - Lionel Messi started on the bench but Barcelona
advanced to the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday and clinched top spot in
Group D after drawing 0-0 with Juventus in Turin.
Last season's finalists Juventus remain second in the group
following the stalemate, a point ahead of third-place Sporting Lisbon, and can
secure their qualification with victory at Olympiakos on December 5.
Five-time European champions Barca came into the clash
needing just a point to finish first in Group D, while Juventus needed to avoid
defeat and Sporting to fail to beat Olympiakos in Lisbon in order to qualify.
But the Portuguese beat their Greek rivals 3-1 in Lisbon,
leaving Juve needing three points in Athens to be sure of a last-16 place.
Barcelona star Messi surprisingly started on the bench, with
Ernesto Valverde electing to rest the Argentinian ahead of Sunday's
top-of-the-table La Liga clash at Valencia.
"There are times when despite his great quality Leo has
to rest," said Valverde.
Messi came on after 56 minutes but could not follow up the
brace he scored in the 3-0 beating Barca inflicted on Juve at the Camp Nou in
"Leo has played a lot since the beginning of the
season. Like everyone he's a bit tired," continued the Barcelona coach.
"We thought that it could open up more in the second
half and that it would be useful to give him a bit of rest with a view towards
"There's always a risk of not playing him but it was a
Juventus boss Massimiliano Allegri admitted it had changed
the dynamics not seeing Messi starting.
"It's the first time in 13 matches that I've played
Barcelona that Messi hasn't played, but when he came on the players controlled
"For us it's an important point."
Allegri recalled veteran duo Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea
Barzagli after they were left out for Sunday's 3-2 defeat at Sampdoria
following Italy's failure to qualify for the World Cup.
In a first half lacking the quality expected of such a
high-profile fixture, Brazilian Douglas Costa demonstrated early pace, forcing
a save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen after two minutes at the Allianz Stadium.
Juventus' livewire forward Paulo Dybala took a chance after
18 minutes following an Andres Iniesta blunder with the wily Argentine running
into Ter Stegen.
Croatian midfielder Ivan Rakitic went closest for Barca
after 22 minutes, when his free-kick struck the post after making its way
through a crowded box.
Dybala looked like he was set to break through just before
half-time when he picked up an Alex Sandro cross to go on a mazy run, but his
shot from a tight angle flew over the bar.
After the break, a Luis Suarez free-kick was deflected over
the bar before Messi came on in place of Gerard Deulofeu, and the Argentina
forward also fired a free-kick high over Juventus stopper Buffon.
Barcelona's Lucas Digne made the mistake of wanting to
centre a ball instead of shooting directly at goal, letting a 68th-minute
chance slip by.
But Dybala thought he had won it in stoppage time from a
corner, only for Ter Stegen to push the shot away and guarantee his side a
place in the knockout stage.
"We came to a difficult stadium against an opponent who
are very strong at home, who normally create a lot of chances for
themselves," said Valverde.
"We could have had a few more chances but it's not easy
to finish top of such a tough group. We're satisfied with our solidity."