With just 16 clubs left in the Champions League and some heavy hitters out of contention, the stage is set for a thrilling knockout stage. Lets go over the matches and discuss some of the best soccer betting options.

It’s not just Manchester United and Manchester City who are conspicuous by their absense from the Champions League last 16, FC Porto, Ajax Amsterdam and Valencia are all AWOL from Europe’s premier club competition. The soccer odds makers are convinced that Real Madrid (at 11/4) and Barcelona (at 11/8) are the teams to beat, but there’re 14 other teams in it to win it and looking to cause an upset.

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The knockout phase of the 2011–12 UEFA Champions League begins on 14th February and concludes on 19 May. Each tie from here on in (apart from the final) is played over two legs, with each team playing one leg at home and one away. The team with the higher aggregate score over the two legs will progress to the next round. In the event of the aggregate scores finishing level the away goals rule is applied, and if away goals are also equal, then we get thirty minutes of extra time. If the deadlock STILL isn’t broken, we’ll see penalties. Now that the rules are out of the way, let’s look at the teams.

Lyon vs. APOEL

APOEL are a (very) long shots at 250/1 to take the trophy and are even 39/20 to reach the Quarter Finals, but the history-making Cypriot side boast a tasty 27-year-old Brazilian striker who just might cause a couple of shocks. Altion is by far their best player and leads the club with three goals from five games in this competition. APOEL face Lyon, with their first match away in Lyon on Tuesday. Olympic Lyonnais are a force in France, but are 25/1 to take the Champions League, however the sportbooks are expecting them to progress past APOEL, at 13/50.

Lionel MessiBayer Leverkusen vs. Barcelona

Defending champions and current soccer betting favourites, Barcelona are keen to become the first team in the Champions League history to retain the trophy. First the Catalan club face Bayer Leverkusen, after topping their group with 16 points from six matches. Barca are 2/25 to beat the German side over both legs, while Bayer are 11/4 to reach the final, not a bad bet if they can best Barcelona, but that’s a big IF.

Zenit St Petersburg vs. Benfica

Portugal club Benfica, are 50/1 to win the Champions League and 12/25 to progress. A lot of their prowess is down to midfielder Nicolas Gaitán, who is at the heart of the club's chance at progressing in the Champions League. He was a key player and managed an assist in every match he played in the group stage. They should make it past Zenit who are 27/25 to make the quarter finals.

Milan vs. Arsenal

Two big clubs face off in the next pairing, Arsenal and AC Milan. These teams are at a fairly high price, but are therefore worth a punt. Arsenal (who now seem like the Arsenal of old) are at 20/1 to win the Champions League and Milan (the Serie A champions) are 25/1.

They are a pair of outside bets at present (because they face each other), but are worth a dark horse bet with the bookies. It’s worth remembering that in the last three UEFA Champions League seasons, Milan were eliminated by an English team at this stage (once by the Gunners), especially as Arsenal are 21/20 to reach the quarter finals.

CSKA Moscow vs. Real Madrid

Cristiano RonaldoThe defending Russian Champions, Zenit St Petersburg, have a Real mountain to climb. The Russian side are unlikely to hurt Real Madrid, who are the second favourites (at 5/4) behind Barcelona. Jose Mourinho’s side are a safe 1/10 to move past Zenit. Madrid are in form and flying very high in La Liga this term, having won 18 of their 21 league games this season, back the obvious bet in this match up.

Napoli vs. Chelsea

World Cup-winning coach Marcello Lippi reckons Chelsea's manager Andre Villas-Boas should be worried about facing Napoli. The English side only managed to secure qualification to this stage in the last round thanks to a home 3-0 victory against Valencia. While Napoli have been in stunning form in the Champions League, and survived the so-called 'Group of Death'. The Blues travel to Napoli on February 21st, with the return leg scheduled for the 14th March at Stamford Bridge. The odds favour Chelsea, at 12/25 to progress. It’s a decent bet as Walter Mazzarri’s side are languishing in seventh place in the Serie A table and have won less than a third of their league games this season.

However, Napoli’s counterattacking style dealt with Manchester City in the group stages, and although Napoli are available at a huge 40/1 to actually win the Champions League, they are 38/25 to be playing in the Quarter Finals.

Marseille vs. Internazionale

Inter coach Claudio Ranieri has insisted that his team’s supporters should not worry about their recent bad run, as (he believes) a reversal of fortune (for the good) is just around the corner. "I am serene, because if the team struggles, the lads will react, because they are true champions,” he said. Still, the bookies have them at 29/50 to make the quarter finals.

Basel vs. Bayern Munich

Finally FC Basel take on Bayern Munich. It’s hardly the most thrilling of match ups. Basel are 125/1 to lift the Champions League trophy, while Bayern are 11/4. If you want to pick the winner from this fixture go for the bookies favourite; Bayern who are 1/10.