This article uses decimal odds throughout – for more about understanding betting odds, we recommend the guide here. All odds correct at time of writing!
So here we are. In just a few short hours, the first semi-final of the 2021 Eurovision Song Contest will take place. With an actual live audience making actual live noises. Can you believe it? It’s been a long wait, and the main priority for every fan will be to simply sit back, enjoy the show, and appreciate the fact that we have an ESC at all this year.
But as always, there’s a penny or two to be made along the way if you feel like making things a little more interesting – so let’s take our usual look at the betting markets for tonight’s show! Fire up this Oddschecker overview if you want to see the markets I’m referring to.
Semi-finals are all about qualification, so that’s the main focus as far as the markets are concerned. And there have been some fun fluctuations along the way! Having traded as short as 1.15 for qualification on Betfair earlier in the season, ROXEN from Romania’s odds briefly drifted into 2.7+ territory as she ran into technical difficulties during last night’s jury final – only to rebound again once it became clear she would get a second attempt at her performance. She’s now around 2 with most sites, which implies a 50/50 chance of qualifying (you can get 2.1 at Paddy Power, for example).
The biggest outsider of all is Vasil from North Macedonia, way out at 7.0 (Betfair/SBK) – whereas at the other end of the scale, you’re looking at odds of 1.01 for Malta to qualify. Yes, that really does mean you’d need to bet €100 to win €1. Still, a certainty is a certainty, right?
Elsewhere, there are four female up-tempos fighting for similar votes in this semi – Cyprus, Croatia, Israel and Azerbaijan – and it’s hard to imagine all four making it through. The markets remain confident that Israel will be the one to miss out, with qualification odds of 2.3 available at SBK, for example. But if you think one of the others might be in trouble, why not consider a bet on Croatia to fail to qualify? You can get odds of 3.5 at Paddy Power if you think “OH NOOOO!” will be the prevailing mood in Albina’s green room booth tonight. Alternatively, if you suspect the #Efentix love story might not have a happy ending for one or both of the participants, Azerbaijan and Norway are at 2.62 and 3.5 to not qualify respectively.
The other markets for tonight’s show all relate to outcomes that will only be revealed once the full breakdown of the results is published in the early hours of Sunday morning, so you’ll have to wait to find out if you made a profit or not.
Take the winner of the semi-final, for example. Common consensus suggests that Malta is the prime candidate here – Destiny has the pimp slot in the running order and a whole lot of jury love to rely on, and it’s hard to look past her. If you’re a keen Betfair user, though, you might want to lay Malta at 1.72 – this effectively constitutes a bet on any other country to win and would more than double your money if successful. As far as the more conventional bets are concerned, Cyprus have had a great last week and have shortened to 5.0 (Betway), while there could be an argument for the unusual sounds of Ukraine at 8.0. But let’s be honest, this doesn’t feel like a very competitive market.
Top three in the semi, on the other hand, offers some potential if you believe that Ukraine and – in particular – Cyprus have been flattered by effusive fan blogging since rehearsals began last weekend. Those two countries and Malta are the clear frontrunners in this market, but I think a case can be made for The Roop from Lithuania to crash that particular party. With a strong televote guaranteed and the bonus of being the first song to be performed on the ESC stage in two years, with the crowd euphoria that will entail, odds of 2.75 (Unibet) for a podium finish tonight are definitely inviting. Similarly, if we’re talking about songs that have benefited from strong rehearsals, Russia is lurking there at 5.0 (Betfred) and can never be completely ruled out.
Finally, what about last place in the semi-final? It’s worth noting that this market is only available on Betfair and really isn’t very liquid at all, with only £721 traded at time of writing. But there are still a few notable prices there. In line with its outsider status in the qualification market, North Macedonia has the shortest available odds for last place at 2.3. Meanwhile, Ireland’s rehearsals clearly haven’t persuaded the market – as well as drifting heavily for qualification, Lesley Roy is now in 3-4 territory for last place in the semi (3.25 is available as I write).
Or you might think – and it’s not implausible – that the live-on-tape performance by Montaigne from Australia will fall flat on its face with jurors and viewers, not least since it accentuates the oddness of Australia taking part in a Eurovision competition in the first place. There’s a chunky gap between the back and lay sides there right now, but you can grab 4.0 for last place at time of writing. Do keep an eye on this market during the show tonight, though – it might get more active and hence more liquid as we see the performances on our TV screens and get a better idea of who’s messed up their chances with the televoters!
And that completes our look at tonight’s betting markets. However you’re watching the show and wherever you may place your money – above all else, do enjoy the fact that we’ve got Eurovision back again. Cheers!