​Barcelona full-back Jordi Alba is set to make a welcome return to the first-team for his side's top of the table clash against ​Atletico Madrid on Sunday.

The left-back missed last week's 1-1 draw against Las Palmas through suspension, but is expected to start when Diego Simeone's team visit the Nou Camp.

Alba's absence was noticeable as ​Barcelona laboured to a disappointing result in Gran Canaria.


Lucas Digne deputised on the left of Ernesto Valverde's back four but was unable to provide the same offensive threat.

Alba has excelled this season, striking up an understanding with Lionel Messi and offering constant width and a considerable threat on the left flank.

He is expected to be joined in his return to the side by both Philippe Coutinho and Gerard Pique.

Neither played in Thursday's game against Las Palmas, with one eye turned towards Sunday's potential title decider.

Should Barcelona beat ​Atletico, they will stretch their lead at the top of ​La Liga to eight points with 11 games remaining. But a win for the visitors would reduce the gap to just two points.


"It's an important game, but there is still a long way to go," said Barcelona boss Valverde - quoted by ​ESPN. "The points are important for what they could mean and [also] to stop the gap being cut even more.

"Our advantage is down to just five points after dropping two the other day, so now the points are worth even more and the prize is a juicy one. If we win, we go eight points clear and that's the intention. Winning would be an important step forward.

"But there's still a long way to go to decide the league, so I don't consider it a final. But we will prepare for it as if it's our last game, as if it's a final. That's the only way to prepare for games against Atletico."