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Cup clash with Darmstadt

Injury-hit FCB target last eight berth

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On Tuesday evening, FC Bayern play in front of their home crowd one last time prior to the winter break, before signing off for the festive season with Glühwein and a spectacular laser show for the fans. First of all, the German record champions must negotiate a win-or-bust knockout contest, the DFB Cup Round of 16 meeting with SV Darmstadt (Live in English from 20.30 CET on Twitter and web radio) at the Allianz Arena (tickets still available).

“It's a crucial match for us. Darmstadt lost against Hertha by quite a margin, but we still have to give everything. They want to go through as well,” cautioned Manuel Neuer. Tuesday’s opponents from the state of Hesse fell 4-0 at home to Hertha last Saturday. Furthermore, Darmstadt have yet to win against FCB: they have lost six of the seven competitive fixtures against the Reds, drawing once.

Long injury roster

“But it starts 0-0. We have to prove we're the favourites. They’re a team with great character,” stressed Pep Guardiola on Monday before the final training session, aware of the hazards involved in a knockout match. “In the group stage it's okay to lose a game, tomorrow it's a final.” Striker Robert Lewandowski agreed: “It's only one match. Everything is possible in the cup. We have to go for it from the start.”

Three days after the 2-0 victory over Ingolstadt, Munich are still struggling with a long injury roster. Guardiola has no new alternatives, so the 16-man squad has not changed. “We have enough players. We were in this situation for four months last season. We’re not complaining, but if we want to win the big trophies we need the whole squad,” commented Guardiola.

'More than David v Goliath'

After victories over Erndtebrück (5-0) and Hannover (2-1) in the previous rounds, Darmstadt travel to Munich “with lots of hope and without fear,” declared coach Dirk Schuster. According to the former Germany international his troops' chances of getting through to the last eight are “in the lower single-digit percentage against the best team in Europe. It's more than David v Goliath. I can't think of a proper comparison to the kind of miracle it would be if we got through,” commented Schuster. “It's a colossal obstacle – and we want to enjoy it!”

Not that Schuster feels his men have no hope of achieving the impossible. “Actually we can only win. It would be the most normal thing in the world for Bayern to go through. We'll try to make it as hard as possible for them,” he announced. Defender Fabian Holland outlined the minnows’ game plan: “Our first aim is to keep a clean sheet for as long as we can. Then we'll see what's possible. We'll give everything, like in every other match.”