Tonight sees the grand final of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest, and as always, one of the ways you can add some extra spice to your own enjoyment of the event is by placing a bet or two.
If you’ve been following my betting blogs this week, you’ll know that my tips for the first and second semi-finals turned out to be something of a mixed bag – but then I do always stress that they’re recommendations for things you might want to take a look at, rather than specific instructions on how and where to place your hard-earned cash!
With that in mind, I’m actually going to frame today’s five suggestions in more general terms, including some properly speculative bets. The Eurovision final tends to throw up some far more interesting niche markets than the semi-finals, so let’s make the most of them!
Here, then, are five (speculative) bets you might want to look at for tonight’s show:
- Sweden to win each-way. The odds available for host country Sweden keep fluctuating, but at the time of writing, you can get a price of around 15 for Frans and “If I Were Sorry” at those bookmakers that actually offer each-way odds (not all of them do!). I think that’s worth a look: there seems to be an unwritten law that countries can’t win twice in a row these days, but Sweden have arguably the most contemporary song on offer tonight, and it must have a great chance of a podium finish. Will it win? That’s a fine question – the markets seem more or less convinced that Sergey Lazarev from Russia will be taking home the trophy, and perhaps they’re right. But an each-way bet protects your investment while giving you some generous upside if Frans does end up victorious tonight.
- United Kingdom to finish ahead of Spain. There are lots of very interesting head-to-head bets available for tonight’s grand final. I’m tempted by the odds on Belgium to finish ahead of its neighbour, the Netherlands, for example. But I think the UK vs. Spain match-up represents particularly interesting value. Joe and Jake have been enjoying positive coverage during the rehearsals, but it’s important to remember that everything is relative: a better than expected British performance might still only mean they finish 20th or so. Which is where a head-to-head bet comes in. The British boys may not set the scoreboard on fire tonight, but they should have a good chance of finishing above the jury poison that is “Say Yay!”, the Spanish entry by Barei and her shouty backing singers – making odds of 2.2 (Betfair Sportsbook) worth a nibble.
- Czech Republic to finish last. Even within the parameters of a speculative post like this, the last place market for the grand final is something of a crapshoot, considering there are 26 potential candidates (including – let’s say – a good dozen who realistically could end up at the bottom of the pile depending on how the votes stack up). With the new scoring system rewarding diaspora televotes a little more than has been the case in recent years, that should protect the likes of Lithuania who might otherwise have been in trouble. The natural instinct is to look at the “big five” as potential last-place candidates, since they haven’t had to prove themselves by qualifying from a semi-final, and indeed Germany is the current bookmakers’ favourite for the wooden spoon. But I’m going to take a slightly more speculative punt on the Czech Republic at a price of 8 (Boylesports). “I Stand” is hindered by underwhelming camerawork and a terrible spot in the running order (second place for a ballad – ouch!), while the Czechs have few televoting friends, and the jury support that probably helped them through Tuesday’s semi-final could easily dissolve in a far larger and more competitive field tonight. Worth a look, anyway.
- Croatia to be the top Balkan country. Now, let’s be clear: even within the realms of speculation, I don’t especially think this will happen. But the thing is this. The semi-final results mean this category only contains the entries from Serbia, Bulgaria and Croatia. That’s not many songs at all. And Croatia is seen as the rank outsider here, currently pricing at 8 or above (8.5 on Betfair Sportsbook). In a three-horse field, all it takes is for Serbia to stumble – I don’t rate Bulgaria particularly highly, especially from an early starting position – and this essentially becomes a head-to-head fight in which the strong song from Croatia could easily overcome its own idiosyncratic styling choices and emerge on top. While I do think Sanja from Serbia will make it in the end, Croatia is an early-season favourite that subsequently drifted hugely, and it might be worth remembering why it was favoured in the first place.
- Austria to be the top “Western European” country. This is a curious market, consisting of the entries from France, Belgium, Malta, Italy, the Netherlands, Austria, the United Kingdom, Spain and Germany. Have you noticed a trend there? That’s right: lots of countries with no chance of winning or even doing particularly well tonight. After being backed in massively to win the whole contest, Amir from France has drifted somewhat, but he remains the clear favourite in this market. The question for the experienced punter, then, has to be: what if it doesn’t happen for him? All of a sudden, there’d be value in the “best western” field – and that’s where I think Austria stands a chance. Many of the other members of this category have unfavourable early draws, the streaming/sales trackers all seem to suggest that “Loin d’ici” did pretty well in Tuesday’s first semi-final, and Zoë’s relatively simple performance (albeit accompanied by a gorgeous “yellow brick road” staging) could come across as a breath of fresh air near the end of a running order that’s packed with overstaged, overcomplicated visuals. More than anything, though, it’s the price of 21 (PaddyPower) that draws me towards this bet. Even if the likes of France and Italy do stand a good chance of beating Zoë, those odds have to be worth a nibble.
And those are my betting suggestions for tonight’s show! If you don’t like what you see here, do remember to look at Oddschecker for all of the available markets – there’s surely something for you out there.
Wherever you place your money, I hope you have a fun (and profitable) evening – and thanks for following the escgo! betting blogs this year.