TV pundit Tim Booth has the best betting insight into Saturday's Eurovision Song Contest Final.
The Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest is undoubtedly the biggest night of the year for fans of TV Specials betting. Two competitive semi-finals took place earlier this week, and the final line up is now complete with 26 countries remaining.
It’s time to take a look where the value lies for tomorrow night’s entertainment extravaganza in Kiev, Ukraine. Markets suggest that six songs have the look of Top 10 bankers, and I tend to agree. These are, in no particular order: Italy, Portugal, Bulgaria, Belgium, Sweden and Armenia. This market also strongly favours the novelty ‘Yodel It!’ from Romania, but I am not quite convinced. This is because, despite having a favourable second half draw, it now has to compete in the televote with novelty songs from Moldova, Croatia and the gorilla from Italy. Furthermore, Romania is likely to be heavily penalised by national juries whom make up 50% of the total points.
That leaves a potential 3-4 places up for grabs in the lower reaches of the Top 10. One song with plenty going for it is ‘Lights and Shadows’ from The Netherlands. This is an evocative performance with classy and tasteful staging which should be appreciated by both televoters and juries alike. The narrative of the OG3NE sisters’ dying mother is portrayed very effectively with the imagery on the LED floor and video backdrop.
Despite a first half draw, The Netherlands looks the value pick to finish Top 10 at 2/1 because of the way the performance emotionally connects with its audience. The vocals on display are also arguably the strongest in the competition.
The win market is highly likely to be a three horse race between Italy, Portugal and Bulgaria. It’s widely speculated that the latter two won their respective semi-finals, and so are both strong contenders to lift the Eurovision trophy on Saturday.
Hot favourite Italy has held its first place in the betting despite pulling out a first half draw and being given starting position number 9. There’s been a lot of hype regarding ‘Occidentali’s Karma’, but this early running order slot will undoubtedly harm its televote. Similarly to Romania, the solid uptempo package from Moldova could be snatching potential votes away from Francesco and his gorilla. Now that the final line up is complete, Italy no longer looks the shoo-in many had previously thought. However, its chances still have to be respected.
Another very fancied pick that’s also in a foreign language is the second favourite from Portugal. ‘Amos Pelos Dois’ is an extremely credible jazz number which wowed TV viewers at home when it in appeared in Tuesday’s semi-final. At the time of writing, it is leading the iTunes downloads out of all 42 songs in this year’s line up. This suggests it’ll be featuring very prominently on the scoreboard on Saturday night, no matter what. Although, it is a very low-key ballad that could really have done with a second half draw in order to make the necessary impact to win in a field of 26.
Third favourite, Moscow-born Kristian Kostov, has also been well supported in the markets for Bulgaria. After having been lucky enough to pull out a second half draw, Kristian will be performing in the prime starting position of 25. ‘Beautiful Mess’ is a highly effective overall package, with classy and somewhat innovative staging concept. This type of contemporary ballad will be very effective from being positioned so late in the running order. Furthermore, it’s performed entirely in English, whereas its two main rivals are in languages which have tended to underperform in the televote. Bulgaria will be benefitting from plenty votes from Balkan region, Bulgarian diaspora and even the ex-USSR.
Speaking of Eastern Europe, that region is uncharacteristically weak this year. With Russia not competing anymore and Ukraine sending a heavy rock number, Bulgaria’s only real competitor for top points in the East is Armenia. As we saw with Jamala last year, it’s very possible to win Eurovision despite winning neither the televote nor jury vote. A similar sort of scenario could play out with Bulgaria this year, and with it being the only strong contender in the second half, distanced very far away from both Italy and Portugal, it’s got to stand a decent shot at winning. Therefore, as the current third favourite, Bulgaria has to be the value pick to come out on top at 5/1.
For potential bragging rights, my predicted Top 3 on Saturday night is as follows: