BARCELONA sources claim Real Madrid had an influence in the decision to rest Lionel Messi.
Argentina superstar Messi was a surprise omission from the starting line-up in Juventus in midweek.
Spanish newspaper Sport say Messi had been speaking to boss Ernesto Valverde about managing his workload for weeks.
Real dropped points in a 0-0 draw with Atletico at the weekend and are now 10 points behind Barca.
And it is claimed that this is the reason why Valverde agreed to rest Messi for the Champions League match - so he would be fully fit for a tough clash with Valencia.
Sport say the Valencia match is now a “critical game” and one Barca needed Messi to be fit for.
Valverde and Messi had another conversation a day before the game where the decision was confirmed. It was then agreed he would start on the bench and come on after an hour when Juve were tiring.
Ultimately Valverde was vindicated as Barcelona secured a 0-0 draw to ensure they will top the group.
However, he was grateful to a late save from Marc-Andre ter Stegen which denied Paulo Dybala a winner.
Messi did come on in the 56th minute and shortly afterwards curled a free-kick over, but he was unable to break the deadlock.
Valverde said on Barcelona's Twitter feed: "Leaving Messi out was difficult.
"But he has played a lot this season and today we saw a long and tough contest, so we thought a rest would do him good."
Valverde also sent a message of support to Sevilla coach Eduardo Berizzo.
Sevilla confirmed Berizzo has prostate cancer after their dramatic 3-3 draw with Liverpool on Tuesday evening.
Valverde added: "I want to send a gesture of support to Eduardo Berizzo.
"We are behind him as is all the club. We all love football and we are passionate about it but at times we forget there are more important things."