Messi benched as Bilbao hold Barcelona

Soccer Football- La Liga Santander- Leganes v FC Barcelona- Butarque Municipal Stadium Leganes Spain

Barcelona conceded their eighth goal of the season so far in the 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao - last season they reached the half-way point of the campaign only having let-in nine goals.

"When I make the decision, I think about what's best for my team and for my club", Valverde was quoted as saying by FootballEspana.

"I know it was a risky decision but if it had gone well no-one would have even asked me about it. Sergi Roberto got injured today, imagine if Messi had".

Messi was a surprise absentee from the starting line-up, along with Sergio Busquets, but he and the Spain midfielder were both called into action in the second half after Oscar de Marcos had put the visitors ahead.

Leganes had never earned a point against Barcelona in its three seasons in the first division.

With so many games in short succession it made sense to rotate the squad, but Barca's hopes of recording a comfortable win over Bilbao with a somewhat weaker starting XI was hindered by a poor first-half.

Messi, who was introduced in the 55th minute, had already hit the post and seen a free kick cleared off the line when he set up Munir El Haddadi to equalise with five minutes to play.

"It's been a hard week, having won only two points in nine possible", Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. They must be focused and intense, like against PSV when Messi scored a hat-trick and the team won 4-0. Messi was also booked after the final whistle for dissent as the home side's frustration spilled over.

Barca striker Suarez was critical of his side's performance and their continued dependence on Messi.

"We have the best player in the world but we can't depend on Leo coming on to sort things out", the Uruguayan said to reporters.

Luis Suarez said after the 1-1 draw: 'Messi is the best in the world but we can not depend on him coming on to provide a solution.

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