Preview: SV Darmstadt 98 v Bayern München

Rock-bottom Bundesliga strugglers Darmstadt face a tall order if they want to snap a six-match losing streak in the league against a Bayern München side that look to be finally hitting their best form in 2016/17.

Bundesliga
18 December 2016
Game week 15
Kickoff: 16:30 (CET)
Venue: Jonathan-Heimes-Stadion am Böllenfalltor (Darmstadt)

Referee: B. Dankert
Assistants: R. Rohde, M. Häcker
Fourth official: P. Alt

Head-to-head summary:

TEAM MATCHES WIN DRAW LOSS
Darmstadt 7 0 1 6
Bayern 7 6 1 0

Previous encounter:

Bayern Munich 3-1 Darmstadt 98

Bayern goalscorers: Thomas Muller (’49) and (’71). Robert Lewandowski (’84)
Darmstadt goalscorer: Sandro Wagner (’26)

Players to watch:

With so few bright spots in a side struggling for goals and results, it will likely be goalkeeper Michael Esser that is most in the firing line on Sunday. The 29-year-old has been something of a journeyman in his career in Germany, but he will no doubt have to be at his best to try and keep out Bayern Munich’s star-studded line-up. Esser’s last clean sheet came against Eintracht Frankfurt in September so it will be a huge ask for the Castrop-Rauxel-born shot-stopper.

Robert Lewandowski may be rubbing his hands with glee when Bayern travel to Hesse. With 19 goals in 22 appearances, the Poland international will no doubt fancy his chances against Darmstadt’s struggling defence. The home side have conceded 27 times in 14 league games and look strong favourites to suffer the drop in this campaign. The 28-year-old could prove to be real torment to the Lilies on Sunday.

Team form and manager quotes:

Darmstadt 98 interim manager Ramon Berndroth has expressed his trepidation at having to face a side packed with so much quality as Bayern.

He told Kicker: “Their quality is more than a difficult task for us. Although we are fundamentally positive, there is always a certain pressure against Bayern that the thing does not go well.”

Meanwhile, Carlo Ancelotti is aware that he has to guarantee success with Bayern, even with a seemingly less challenging clash with the hosts.

He told reporters: “In the big clubs it is difficult to stay a long time because the expectations of results are so high. (For example) Real Madrid’s history and demands mean that if a coach doesn’t win trophies, a change is made. You have to respect that.”

Team news:

Darmstadt are hopeful that Florian Jungwirth, Leon Guwara and Daniel Heuer Fernandes will be fit for the game. However, Änis Ben-Hatira is out with an ankle injury.

For the visitors, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry are injury doubts for Sunday’s outing. The pair trained alone during the week. Javi Martínez is also doubtful. Better news is that Mats Hummels and Jérôme Boateng returned to full training this week.

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