Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde laments Chelsea's extra day's rest

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde would have liked more time to prepare for Tuesday's Champions League game against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea host Championship side Hull City in the FA Cup fifth round on Friday, which gives them the following three days to prepare for Barca's round-of-16 visit next week.

Barca, meanwhile, play away at Eibar in La Liga on Saturday, leaving them with two days to plan for the game, with one of them taken up travelling to London. It's a difference of less than 24 hours, but Valverde feels it's significant.

"That day is enough of a difference in terms of recovering physically," he said in a news conference. "I would have liked to play against Eibar on Friday, too, to have an extra day before the game against Chelsea.

"But [the Eibar] game is an important one as well. The only game we're thinking about right now is that one. We're not thinking about Tuesday's game."

Valverde is grateful that Barca travel to the Basque Country on the back of a free midweek, their first in 2018 after their involvement in the Copa del Rey.

"We needed this week off, on a mental level more than a physical one," the coach added. "When you have more time before games, it's easier to manage them and prepare for them.

"This midweek break has come at a good time for us, having a few days off to rest mentally from the drain of fighting to get to the Copa del Rey final."

Barca have seen their lead at the top of the table cut from 11 points to seven following back-to-back draws against Espanyol and Getafe in the last two weeks.

Eibar, meanwhile, have lost just once in their last 12 league games, rising to seventh in the table, and Valverde knows his side will have their work cut out as they look to get back to winning ways.

"They have caught a wave of form and they're riding it at the moment," he said about Saturday's opponents. "It's very difficult to play against them, they force you back and they're very good at home, intense.

"You have to know how to overcome that high line of pressure they use. If you do [that], you have a chance, but they are very strong, as they have demonstrated."

For the first time this season Valverde could have his whole squad to choose from for the game at Ipurua, with Thomas Vermaelen returning to training this week.

With that in mind, it could be a good time for record signings Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele to step up and show why the club invested so much money in them.

"It's always the moment for good players to prove themselves on the pitch," Valverde responded when asked if Coutinho and Dembele needed to start making a difference in matches.

"We're in the decisive phase of the season and if they can step forward, we will be delighted. The circumstances are what they are, with [Dembele's] injuries, Coutinho's, too, [when he arrived]. But they're important players and we want them to help us."

If Coutinho and Dembele do step up, it would take some of the burden off Lionel Messi, whom the Argentine Football Association have asked to manage his minutes ahead of the World Cup this summer.

"I have faith in everyone, above all in Leo, who is our player, and I know his ambition is to win everything for Barca and then for then national team," Valverde said when asked if he was aware of the AFA's discussions with Messi. "We want Leo in his best form for us and for them."