Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos has taken a shot at some of Europe's heaviest spenders by saying "you can't buy the Champions League".
Holders Madrid take on Bayern Munich in the semi-final first leg on Wednesday, in the third last-four encounter between the teams since the 2011-12 season.
The fixture is the most-played match in European Cup or Champions League history, with the teams having met 24 times previously, each winning 11 times.
Madrid knocked out Paris Saint-Germain, who smashed the world transfer record to sign Neymar in a bid to bring them closer to the title, in the last 16, while Manchester City, the most expensively assembled team in history, lost 5-1 on aggregate to Liverpool in the last round.
Kroos has won back-to-back tournaments with Madrid, having been part of Bayern's treble-winning side in 2012-13, and he believes such success underlines why no amount of money can guarantee success in the tournament.
"You can't buy a Champions League trophy. If that was the case, we would not have won it so much," he told a news conference when asked why Madrid and Bayern are so frequently in the latter stages.
"It's special for a team like Madrid. We have players in condition to play at the highest level. If you have a lot of players with that experience, in these difficult moments, you know what you have to do and you don't lose your nerve. That's what takes us so far.
"This is the only chance we have to win a title. It was similar two years ago and we did it in the end. We're very motivated: winning it three times in a row is something unique.
"We had PSG in the second round and Juve in the quarter-finals. It's not the easiest road."
Kroos believes Bayern have improved throughout the season under his old boss Jupp Heynckes, but he has vowed to "wipe out the good vibes" of the Bundesliga champions.
"I expect a strong team. It's the semi-final of the Champions League. Bayern are in good form and there's nothing more to say," he said.
"They won the league quite early, but they don't give the impression that they've let their rhythm drop. I think they're in better shape than last year: they had absences then, they didn't have Robert Lewandowski in the first leg.
"Expectation levels at both clubs are similar – you set out to win every competition. Playing in the Champions League is a special motivation for us, as whoever wins in the end can call themselves the best team in Europe. Bayern will be just as hungry as us.
"With Heynckes, they play more as a team. There are good vibes in the team. We're here to wipe out those good vibes."
18. Januar 2019
|Patriots owner says Brady is greatest player, not just quarterback, of all time|
|Inglis to retire from representative duty this year, NRL in 2020|
|Is Beal better without Wall? Wizards star says it´s ´absolutely nonsense´|
|Rockets C Capela undergoes thumb surgery, expected back after All-Star break|
|This Week in U.S. Sports: Irving apologises, Machado´s agent isn´t happy|
|Knicks in woeful shape, but 2019 could still be bright in New York|
|Valverde not worried about Levante´s Copa appeal|
|Nowell an option for England at flanker, reveals Jones|
|Pellegrini: Arnautovic available for the right price|
|Knicks throw away 19-point lead and lose on last-second goaltending call|
|Tebow invited back to Mets´ major league spring training|
17. Januar 2019
|Canelo and Jacobs agree unification fight|
|Barcelona 3 Levante 0 (4-2 agg): Dembele at the double as Barca advance|
|Levante to lodge complaint over Barcelona Copa selection|
|Kanter´s London absence ´very unfortunate´, says NBA commissioner|
|NBA could swap London for Paris in 2020|
|Spurs coach Popovich uncertain if he will return next season|
|Pistons´ Griffin fined for verbal abuse of official|
|Everton do not have financial conditions to enter transfer market - Silva|
|Andy Cole joins Sol Campbell´s coaching staff at Macclesfield|
|Atletico confirm Saul has thigh injury|
|Wood replaces injured Stone in England squad|
|Lebanon 4 North Korea 1: Disciplinary record cruelly denies Radulovic´s men|
|Saudi Arabia 0 Qatar 2: In-form Ali bags brace as Qatar top group|
|Robertson signs new Liverpool deal|
|Vunipola backs Farrell to thrive in solo leadership role|
|People don´t know what´s going on behind the scenes - Mourinho defends United stint|
|Indefatigable Muguruza knocks out Konta at 3:12am|
|Serena coasts, difficulties for Halep and Muguruza´s marathon|
|Lowry retains Abu Dhabi lead|
|Djokovic battles past Tsonga, young guns flourish|
|Louisville airport to be renamed in Muhammad Ali´s honour|
|Emery not thinking about Ozil speculation|
|Sri Lanka hopeful over Kusal Mendis finger injury|
|Oman 3 Turkmenistan 1: Last-gasp Al-Musallami guarantees progression|
|Emery wants Cech to end career ´in a good moment´|
|Japan 2 Uzbekistan 1: Shiotani stunner seals comeback and top spot|
|Calhanoglu deal ´financially impossible´ for Leipzig|
|Not seen at Aus Open since Nadal, Djokovic and Murray in 2009 – ´Next Gen´ make move|
|Martial: Solskjaer lets me express myself|
|Djokovic sees off Tsonga to reach third round|
|Returning Cousins calls Warriors ´the most hated team in sports´|
|Halep injury ´nothing dangerous´|
|Warner picks up elbow injury in Bangladesh|
|Mkhitaryan returning to Arsenal training next week|
|Leeds United pounce for Real Madrid goalkeeper Casilla|
|Watson lights up Gabba before power cut forces abandonment|
|Superb Serena blows Bouchard away|
|Tevez, Hulk, Oscar, Lavezzi - how the CSL stars Dembele is following to China fared|
|Thiem retires from Australian Open|
|Osaka ´not telling´ when it comes to injury niggle|
|Fabinho enjoying Klopp´s management style|
|Halep battles past Kenin in Melbourne|
|Hartley to miss England´s Six Nations opener|
|Dembele departs Spurs for Guangzhou R&F|
|Nacho convinced Isco remains important to Real Madrid|
|Warriors star Curry sets NBA record|
|Raonic survives four-hour marathon against Wawrinka|
|Osaka powers through to Aus Open third round|
|Irving dominates in Celtics´ win over Raptors|
|Irving called LeBron this week to apologise|
|Ajax star De Jong wants to resolve future ´quickly´|
|Payton on Rams CB Peters: I have great respect for him|
|Rockets star Harden matches Chamberlain with historic performances|
|Nishikori survives Karlovic test in Melbourne|
|Vieira reunion felt really weird - Henry|
|´#BetAgainstUs´ - Edelman and Pats embracing underdog status|
|Van der Vaart: Isco the best player in the world|
|I haven´t seen Guardiola or Klopp do that – Lampard unhappy with Bielsa|
|Real Madrid always play to win, insists Casemiro|