The historic rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona usually pauses when members of both teams play together for their nations.
This especially happens with Spain, whose manager Julen Lopetegui normally calls up for duty several aces from both the Catalan and Madrid sides.
However, even when on international breaks, the two clubs' healthy competitiveness sometimes emerges. Such has happened between Spain teammates Isco and Jordi Alba, as the Barcelona star made some bitter-sweet comments about his Real Madrid friend.
"Isco is one of the best in world, even if I don’t like seeing him at that level (for Real Madrid)", Alba said in a press conference ahead of La Roja's match against Costa Rica.
“He’s always played the same way, but now he’s at an incredible level. He’s one of the best in the world."
He continued: “I don’t mind admitting it, even if he’s an eternal rival of mine and I don’t like seeing him at that level for his club. I know him from my time at Valencia."
Alba was asked about what has changed since Spain's unfortunate elimination from the 2014 World Cup at the group stage. He replied: “The introduction of several new faces and the new coaching team have injected new life into us.
“Different things are being done, with all due respect to Vicente del Bosque, who gave me life. There’s a lot of talent in this group and we hope to do well."
He concluded: “We weren’t up to scratch in Brazil, but we now have a national team worthy of winning the World Cup.”
Last summer's controversial departure of long-term teammate Neymar from Barcelona to join Paris-St-Germain was another topic: “At no time did I say that I played better without Neymar. It’s quite the opposite.
“We won many trophies together and he’s a great friend of mine. I enjoy having the left flank to myself much more now, but I never wanted to belittle Neymar. I’d be stupid if I did.
“Every player goes through delicate moments. Now I find myself in a very good way and I want to keep going like this."