Bayern Munich v Darmstadt: Injury-raved Bavarians looking for improvement

Bayern Munich cannot afford a slow start in their DFB-Pokal last-16 clash with Darmstadt on Tuesday, says sporting director Matthias Sammer.

The Bavarian giants struggled against Ingolstadt in their Bundesliga clash at the weekend, failing to get a shot on target until Robert Lewandowski's effort in the 25th minute.

Bayern did eventually overcome their plucky opponents, with goals from the Polish striker and Philipp Lahm ensuring their place at the top of the table during the mid-season break.

The rest period will be welcomed by coach Pep Guardiola, with his side ravaged by injuries.

Arjen Robben and Douglas Costa are nearing returns from muscular injuries after sitting out on Saturday, but Franck Ribery (hamstring) and Mario Gotze (knee) remain sidelined.

Furthermore, Bayern cannot count on Juan Bernat (groin), David Alaba (ankle) and Medhi Benatia (muscular).

As a result, Guardiola has been not named a full allowance of substitutes for the past three Bundesliga matches.

Sammer insists injury troubles are not an excuse for poor displays, though, calling for an improved start against Darmstadt.

"Despite many injuries we still have 16 top players at our disposal," he said.

"Our staffing situation should not be an excuse for the first half [against Ingolstadt]. We may not start the upcoming matches against Darmstadt and Hannover like that. That would be dangerous.

"I saw them play against Frankfurt and they were very compact."

Both sides have defeated Bundesliga opponents en route to this stage, Bayern beating holders Wolfsburg in the previous round while Darmstadt eliminated Hannover.

Since that 2-1 triumph in October, Dirk Schuster's team have won just one of their six outings in all competitions.

A 4-0 loss at home to Hertha Berlin will have provided far from the best preparation for a trip to the Allianz Arena to face a side they have never beaten before.

Schuster remains without Fabian Holland (groin), Milan Ivana (knee) while Jan Rosenthal sustained a knock at the weekend.

Darmstadt have never won the Pokal in their history, while Bayern are the competition's most successful side with 17 triumphs – the most recent of which came in 2014.

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