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It may not have been an entirely successful Tuesday night for the escgo! team in terms of our predictions, but we already know that two of my recommended bets were successful – and there’s a decent chance that a couple of the others will have come in too (we’ll find out when the semi-final results are released after the grand final!).

So I’m going to continue by giving you five bets to consider for tonight’s second semi-final. As before, some of them are as close to “free money” as you’re going to get; others are less likely, but I’ll always tell you why I think they represent a calculated risk that could be worth taking.

Here we go, then:

  • Sweden to win the semi-final. Granted, the best odds you can get for this at the time of writing are 1.4 (with Stan James), but that still seems like an easy way to make a 40% return on your money. Put it this way: “Heroes” might not win the 2015 Eurovision Song Contest, but its main competitors are automatic finalists Italy and Australia, plus the likes of Russia, Estonia and Belgium who qualified from the first semi-final. With that in mind, you can think that Måns might even miss the top 5 altogether on Saturday night but still be reasonably sure he’ll be tonight’s winner.
  • Ireland to qualify. I cannot stress enough that there is a strong element of doubt involved here – Molly’s rehearsals to date have been lacking in camera-friendliness, and second is a rotten starting position for her. But “Playing With Numbers” is a high-quality, contemporary song that should get a decent quantity of jury love, and the UK and Australia are voting in this semi, which will help her. In other words, she might yet miss out, but the fact that her price has drifted to 3 (Betfred) or even 3.33 (Betfair) is inexplicable in a field where 10 out of 17 will qualify and the likes of San Marino and Portugal are such dead weight. Consider this a value bet rather than a banker, then – but one I’m happy to be backing with my own money too, even if it ultimately proves narrowly unsuccessful.
  • Cyprus to finish in the top 3 of the semi-final. There’s such a thing as a “semi-final song” – one that overperforms on a weekday evening due to various factors, only to do very little in the final. The likes of Paradise Oskar in 2011 spring to mind (podium finish in the semi, nowhere in the final), and even Tom Dice in 2010 won his semi-final only to end up a “mere” 6th on the Saturday night. Statistically likely to be drawn in the first half and with 26 competitors to deal with, there’s every chance that “One Thing I Should Have Done” could sink in the crowd on Saturday night. Tonight, though, it comes at a perfect point in the running order and has very little competition in its particular musical and gender field, making a price of 4.2 (Betfair) or even the mid-3s that are available on various other sites good value in my book.
  • And on the other side of the equation, if you know your way around Betfair, I would consider laying Slovenia for top 3 in the semi-final. That means betting against Slovenia finishing in the first three places tonight. Their odds have drifted already – you were getting 2.42 earlier, now it’s more like 3.75 and beyond, which represents not great value – corresponding to effective “positive” odds of around 1.26. But the song is overrated by fans, hasn’t been wowing people in rehearsals, and only needs to finish 4th or below for this bet to be a successful one. With plenty of viable candidates for spots in the top 3, I think it’s a reasonable gamble for the experienced punter.
  • And finally, I’ll be taking Portugal to finish last in the semi-final. This market is basically a two-horse race, with San Marino priced 2.04 and Portugal at the 2.1 (Betfair) that I’m recommending here. My logic is this: for different reasons, neither country is set to pick up much in the way of televoter or jury love. Portugal has limited diaspora support, but San Marino has some established voting patterns with the likes of Montenegro and Malta that should serve them better. Of course, there is a chance that another country could fall through the gaps and end up at the bottom of the pile – the friendless Czechs at 10.5 could also be worth a nibble – but I’m sticking with Leonor’s pleasant but forgettable album track of an entry as tonight’s wooden spoon recipient.

If none of the above bets take your fancy, you can get a good general overview of all the available markets at Oddschecker. Wherever you place your money, have a great night and enjoy the show!

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