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.
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.
Bayer Leverkusen vs.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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