Thomas Vermaelen, Aleix Vidal and Lucas Digne are back in Barcelona's 18-man squad to face Eibar on Tuesday night (19 September) after the three defenders missed the previous two victories over Getafe in La Liga and Juventus in the Champions League due to technical reasons.

Meanwhile, Paco Alcacer, Andre Gomes and Arda Turan have been left out alongside long-term injury victims Ousmane Dembele and Rafinha Alcantara. A further surprise comes with the absence of French centre-back Samuel Umtiti, who made the starting line-up for each of the opening seven games of the season.

Javier Mascherano or even Vermaelen are tipped to replace Umtiti in the heart of the Barcelona backline, while the likes of Andres Iniesta and Ivan Rakitic could also been given a rest despite both being included in Ernesto Valverde's squad.

The Barcelona manager faces another selection dilemma in trying to fill the gap in attack left by Dembele after the club-record signing suffered an injury against Getafe which is expected to keep him on the sidelines for around four months.

Valverde already confirmed in a pre-match press conference that he could make some alterations to his lineup against Eibar as the game will come only four days before a trip to Girona.

"I don't think we've had any problems really until now," the Barcelona boss said. "But every game is different. Sometimes we have less time to prepare. Sometimes when you play on Saturday. I'm sure we will make changes for tomorrow's game, but every change we make is to maintain the style and the rhythm.

"You can't get through the whole season with just 11 players, you have to make changes. Some people say that you can only rotate players when you are losing. When should they be made? That's something that you have to work out."

Barcelona host Eibar following a perfect start to the new La Liga campaign, with Real Madrid four points behind in fourth place. This means that the Catalans could increase the gap over Los Blancos to seven points with a victory over Eibar as Real Madrid do not play their next game against Real Betis until Wednesday.

However, Valverde urged his side to focus on their own job after pointing out that everything can change in a matter of weeks.

"It means that we all know that football can change from day to day," he added. "A month ago [following a defeat to Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup] a lot of people seemed to have their hands on their heads and were wondering what on earth was going to happen with us this season. Now people are a bit more relaxed.

"But things have certainly changed for the better. Who knows how things will be in a month's time? So all we can do is think about winning tomorrow's game, and not worry about the long-term future. Because everything can change in a week. We had nine points to play for this week, we have six so far and three more to go for tomorrow. We need to try and tune out the noise around us and focus on winning tomorrow."

Umtiti
Umtiti has been rested by Valverde ahead of the visit of Eibar Getty