Barcelona have confirmed that centre-back Thomas Vermaelen will travel to London as part of the Catalan club's 21-man squad for the Champions League round of 16 first leg clash against Chelsea.

Vermaelen, 32, has been out of action since suffering a hamstring injury during Barcelona's 5-0 win over Real Betis in January.

The Belgium international's return means Barca coach Ernesto Valverde has a near full-squad to choose from for the trip to Stamford Bridge, with the cup-tied Philippe Coutinho and suspended Nelson Semedo the only absentees.

The Catalan giants returned to winning ways in La Liga with a 2-0 win over Eibar on 17 February following two successive draws, with the result extending their unbeaten run in the league to 31 matches.

Valverde bemoaned Chelsea's extra day of rest ahead of the Champions League fixture, with the Blues having beaten Hull City in the FA Cup on 16 February.

"I would have liked to play against Eibar on Friday, too, to have an extra day before the game against Chelsea," the Barca coach was quoted as saying by ESPN last week.

"When you have more time before games, it's easier to manage them and prepare for them."

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte praised Barcelona as "one of the best teams in the world" and said his team will have to play the "perfect game" to prevail against the Spanish league leaders.

"We have been analysing this team for a long time," Conte was quoted as saying by Sky Sports. "We started one month ago and analysed this team.

"We are speaking about one of the best teams in the world. We have to try to have the perfect game and to try to make the best decisions for this type of team.

"This is a different opponent. They have a fantastic characteristic with the ball, but they can have a weakness without the ball and we must try to exploit this."