Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes has expressed surprise that Spanish international teammate Iker Casillas was not selected by new manager Carlo Ancelotti for Real Madrid's 2-1 win over Real Betis on Sunday.
In a repeat of the final months of Jose Mourinho's reign at Madrid, Ancelotti dropped club captain Casillas to the bench and played Diego Lopez.
However, Valdes, who was away on international duty with Casillas for the Confederations Cup in June and last week's friendly against Ecuador, believes Casillas is still the best 'keeper in the country.
"I was surprised that he didn't start yesterday. In training with Spain he looked good to me and in the Confederations also," he told a press conference on Monday.
"I don't tire of saying that he has made saves that I didn't think were possible. For me he is the best.
"I am not the one to have an opinion because it is not my club and I am not in that dressing room.
"I would like to see him there though because it has always been a personal challenge for me to face him for a number of years."
In contrast to Madrid, who needed a late winner from new signing Isco to collect all three points, Barca started the campaign on fire with a 7-0 thrashing of Levante that included six first-half goals.
The Catalans were also under new management as Gerardo Martino took charge for the first time in a competitive match and Valdes is very much in favour of his decisions to press high up the field and introduce man-marking when defending corners.
"I think it was at the very least one of the best starts to the season I have seen. The team was very intense and defended much higher up the field which allowed us to recover the ball quicker and counter-attack.
"The coach and his team said that they prefer to mark man-to-man and I am happy with this because I am of the same opinion. It gives a goalkeeper more space to come out and collect crosses.
"We marked zonally with Pep (Guardiola) and Tito (Vilanova) and now we have changed, but I like this way of defending."