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Dublin: 9 °C Thursday 17 October, 2019
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As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this evening’s game. E-mail adrian@thescore.ie, tweet @thescore_iepost a message to our Facebook wall, leave a comment below. Or wait for us in the car park shadows tonight.

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Full-time: Bayer Leverkusen 1 FC Barcelona 3; Lyon 1 Apoel Nicosia 0

Okay, lovebirds… push up there for me. Let’s spend a romantic evening together; just you, me and a night of top European football.

We’ve parked the slap-and-tickle and will instead concentrate on some tikka-takka as Barcelona visit the Bayer Arena to take on Leverkusen.

You’ll forgive us if we concentrate on that one, but will, of course, keep a close eye on Lyon v APOEL. Thank me later.

Let’s have your predictions, as always.

Some housekeeping before we get down to it; here’s your team-sheets.

  • Lyon v Apoel Nicosia

Lyon: Lloris, Reveillere, Cris, Bakary Kone, Cissokho, Kallstrom, Gonalons, Lacazette, Ederson, Michel Bastos, Lopez.

Subs: Vercoutre, Gourcuff, Dabo, Fofana, Gomis, Briand, Umtiti.

Apoel Nicosia: Chiotis, Poursaitides, Kaka, Paulo Jorge, Boaventura, Morais, Pinto, Charalambidis, Helder Sousa, Trickovski, Almeida.

Subs: Urko, Solari, Satsias, Manduca, Alexandrou, Solomou, Marcinho.

  • Bayer Leverkusen v Barcelona

Bayer Leverkusen: Leno, Corluka, Schwaab, Friedrich, Kadlec, Reinartz, Rolfes, Bender, Castro, Schurrle, Renato Augusto.

Subs: Yelldell, Oczipka, Kiessling, Ortega, Da Costa, Toprak, Bellarabi.

Barcelona: Valdes, Dani Alves, Mascherano, Puyol, Abidal, Fabregas, Busquets, Iniesta, Sanchez, Messi, Adriano.

Subs: Pinto, Thiago, Pedro, Jonathan, Roberto, Bartra, Cuenca.

So let’s set the scene. Barcelona are in Germany with renewed focus. After defeat in Pamplona on Saturday night, there’s now a yawning 10-point gap between them and bitter rivals Real Madrid.

So that’s La Liga off the agenda.

Pep Guardiola will hope the Nou Camp side can keep the defence of their Champions League title on track however with a win against the Bundesliga outfit  who are without Michael Ballack and Sydney Sam as well as striker Eren Derdiyok because of injuries.

Barca are 2/5 on and it’s raining ‘katzen and hunden’ as Jeff Stelling just informed us.  With kick-off imminent, as David Attenborough would say, let’s see what happens.

There’s not a whole not to report so far. Schwaab has been booked for clattering into Eric Abidal after seven or minutes. (Great name after a few drinks; Schwaab!)

Elsewhere, I searched Press Association for any live Barcelona pictures but there’s none from the game in Germany quite yet. This is the most recent, which is captioned: A worker sets up the ADN Barcelona gallery with a statue of Spain’s former dictator General Francisco Franco in a vending machine at the ARCO art fair.

Pic: Paul White/AP/Press Association Images

Dani Alves – who can hit them, Jeff – wallops a free kick over the bar from a central position. Leverkusen’s fans are in great voice despite their team not having much of the ball just yet. You have to love German football.

Alves was central to the next passage of Barcelona play too. The full back almost got the ball square to Messi who was lurking on the six-yard line but that man Daniel Schwaab slid in to cut out the cross. We’re coming up on 15 minutes now and we’ve seen nothing to suggest this won’t be a routine, clinical job by the visitors.

The first time Leverkusen get a chance to put Barca under some pressure with a free kick in front of the penalty box, about 40 yards, out Castro sends it sailing into the supporters’ seats.  In the meantime, the aforementioned home fans are chanting something to the tune of culture Club’s Karma Chameleon. Top, top singing.

You wait months for the Champions League to return and when it does Leverkusen park the U-Bahn in front of the goal. They’ll ultimately be unpicked by Barcelona, I’m sure, but in the meantime their are forced to pass it in front of the entire Bundesliga team.

As commenter Begrudgy puts it below: “Looks like bayer levekuson going with a 9-1-0 formation.” Half an hour on the clock now and their plan has worked so far.

As they say on the best NBA broadcasts: Messi’s getting hot! The Argentine took a ball over his shoulder on his chest, brought it down and tried to find the back of the net through the defender’s legs from a acute angle. Though the keeper accepted it graciously, with seven minutes to half-time that’s encouraging for Barcelona.

GOAL! Bayer Leverkusen 0 Barcelona 1 (Alexis Sanchez 41′)

So that’s that then? We can all go home and Leverkusen can stay at home in a fortnight?  Barcelona changed the complexion of this tie utterly wen Messi played a delicious ball over the top for his team-mate Sanchez. He duly dispatched it under the onrushing goalkeeper, meaning, surely, the home side need to come out of their half in the next period. Which is no harm.

HALF-TIME Leverkusen 0 Barcelona 1 , Lyon 0 APOEL 0

It’s cup of tea time in TheScore.ie’s famous fun factory. I hope you too are having the Valentine’s night of your dreams. I’m 30 years of age.

And here we go again….

@FourFourTwo tweets: “HT: Barcelona have made 138,964 passes vs Leverkusen with 116% completion and boast 182% possession.”

As I’m chuckling at hyperbolic social media updates however, Leverkusen had the first chance of the first half. A free-kick was floated in across goal, Puyol won a header but when it came down again at the back post it was Friedrich who slid in to get his studs on the ball. It went behind for a goal kick but that’s a lot brighter from the Germans.

GOAL! Leverkusen 1 Barcelona 1 Kadlec 52′

Game on, Ger. Leverkusen’s more adventurous, committed approach this half is rewarded less than eight minutes into the second period. The ball was headed around a crowded box before it was ultimately floated to the back post and the Czech international Kadlec beat Abidal to it to nod past Valdes.

GOAL! Leverkusen 1 Barcelona 2 Sanchez 55′

And just like that, they go ahead again. There was a TV advert for a bookmakers during the half-time interval which inticed viewers to put a tenner down and win 70 quid if Sanchez scored next (that’s 7-1 maths fans). If you took them up on it, you’d now be richer than I.

Fabregas played the winger through again, he took it around the keeper and finished crisply.

Let’s head south shall we readers, there’s been a goal in France. Lyon have taken the lead against Apeol Nicosia through Alexandre Lacazette.

Leverkusen are impressing here with some ballsy play. They were almost rewarded for committing men forward there and equalised for the second time tonight but Renato Augusto’s low shot across goal came back off the butt of the post. “He was unlucky there,” says Alan McAnally. “Very unlucky.”

Messi hits the post. But it’s just as lovely as goal from where I’m sitting.  He drifts inside, jinks between two defenders and then dinks it over the keeper but it rebounds of the upright and behind. Daniel Schwaab, one of the defenders left in the Argentine’s wake, affords himself a smile as he walks towards the halfway line with the Barcelona forward.

Stat attack, nerds…. from OptaFranz: “9 – Sanchez is the 9th player to score for Barca in this #CL season. Only Chelsea and Real Madrid are having 9 scorers, too. Various”

One reader has emailed me to write: “Surely if you had taken bookmaker up on their offer you would be poorer than you as Leverkusen scored first goal after half time.”

I often add deliberate mistakes to ensure you read the liveblogs properly.

Leverkusen almost draw level again when Castro floats in a cross and the newly-introduced Kiessling dives to head it goalwards, only for Valdes to get behind it on the line. As I type, Sergio Busquets takes a diving header of his own into the astro-turf track around the pitch and Castro is harshly booked for his part in the fall. Ten minutes left.

GOAL! Leverkusen 1 Barcelona 3 (Leo Messi 88′)

Well that puts the tin hat on tonight’s proceedings. Barcelona wrapped up the game tonight, if not the tie, with a great goal.  Danny Alves drove down the tramline, he could have shot and probably scored himself as he cut inside but waited and waited until Messi had driven into the box, put it in the air for him and the Argentine dispatched brilliantly. Boom.

FULL-TIME Bayer Leverkusen 1 Barcelona 3

So that’s your lot, singletons and those you reading this in the bathroom of a restaurant while your other half glances at her watch outside at your candle-lit table.  I’m off to the chipper. Join us tomorrow night for more live football and any time in between for everything else.

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