This article uses decimal odds throughout – for more about understanding betting odds, we recommend the guide here. All odds correct at time of writing!
How did you do in the first semi-final, fellow betters? Hooverphonic and Lesley Roy made me a happy man on that front, while I also backed up my tip regarding the generous odds on Croatian non-qualification – it seemed worth a punt at that price, and so it proved. We’ll find out in due course just how close Albina was to making it to the grand final.
The second semi-final is widely regarded as a more unpredictable beast, and yet there are a whole bunch of nailed-on qualifiers here, as their extremely short odds illustrate. So where is the value in tonight’s show? Let’s take a closer look at the betting markets – as always, fire up this Oddschecker overview if you want to see the markets I’m referring to.
Let’s start with the winner market this time, because it feels like there are multiple contenders on that front. Although their odds wobbled when rehearsal footage first emerged, Switzerland is now back in the driving seat in this particular market, with 2.42 (SBK) as the best price for Gjon’s Tears to take victory in tonight’s semi-final. While that may still happen, those feel like short odds when you have a motivated delegation like Bulgaria (4.5 to win at Unibet) putting every effort into their staging and promotion.
And then there’s Iceland – they should have been in the discussion here anyway, but now we have the added factor of how juries and televoters will react to their absence from the live shows. Will there be a sympathy vote, or will it put people off, consciously or otherwise? Odds of 6.0 (Betway) are available if you think Daði and his gang will ride a wave of good feeling to victory tonight, regardless of how they do when the recording of their performance is reused on Saturday. Or if you want to be more specific, you can get 3.25 (Smarkets) if you think Iceland will win the televote tonight, whatever the juries decide to do with Iceland.
Befitting their status as the trailblazers in the winner market, the odds for Switzerland, Bulgaria and Iceland to finish in the top three of tonight’s semi-final are all shorter than 2.0, making for some attractive lay opportunities on the Betfair Exchange if that’s your kind of thing. On the more conventional markets, next in line for a podium finish is Finland at 2.68 (SBK), which feels short – will it really get enough jury love for that? Of course, the juries are a potential issue for the other contenders too, such as Greece (3.1, SBK) and San Marino (4.0, Unibet). In a semi where the televotes could be all over the place, then, you might want to turn your eye to the more jury-friendly songs. Portugal has been the big winner of the rehearsal period in that respect and is now trading at 5.0 (Unibet) for a top three finish tonight – if the juries go for it and there’s enough televote support too, that’s not out of the question.
Let’s get down to the real business of the night now: qualification. As I mentioned above, there’s almost no point in backing any of the five favourites here. Next in line is Serbia at remarkably short odds of 1.25 (Sporting Index) at time of writing. While it would be superficial to draw comparisons with Croatia’s fate in Tuesday’s first semi-final – the language and the lack of backing dancers make “Loco Loco” a very different beast – there’s still a feeling that there’s a limited audience for the Serbian entry, and Paddy Power will give you 3.25 if you think Hurricane will miss out tonight. Albania arguably suffers from the same problems of wider reach, and if you believe there isn’t room for both Serbia and Albania in tonight’s virtual envelopes but that Anxhela will be the unlucky one, the non-qualification price (again, on Paddy Power) is 2.62.
Betting-wise, Portugal has had the most remarkable of journeys this season. Exactly one month ago, you could get odds of 3.3 for The Black Mamba to qualify. Now, the longest price you’ll find is 1.25 (William Hill). Conversely, Natalia Gordienko from Moldova has seen her odds lengthen as a promising preview video turned into some very conventional staging choices – “Sugar” is now as long as 2.2 (Skybet) to make a repeat apperance on Saturday night.
Meanwhile, the entry in this semi-final that has had some of the most enthusiastic rehearsal reports – Vincent Bueno’s “Amen” for Austria – is still trading at 2.0 in a lot of places (e.g. Paddy Power). And if you believe the good vibes of Fyr & Flamme from Denmark will get people voting tonight, they’re as far out as 3.0 with William Hill. There’s definitely some value in there somewhere, I’m just not entirely sure where it is – so it might be worth waiting for the performances and being ready to pounce if something comes across particularly well. Or badly!
The same applies to the last place market. Like in semi 1, this is a Betfair Exchange market and is still fairly illiquid, but the main contenders do have valid prices. Georgia is the obvious candidate here, and the market agrees, with odds of just 2.52 available at time of writing. While Poland’s reliable televote support will surely be sufficient to rescue “The Ride” from the wooden spoon despite similarly short odds, the relatively friendless Czech Republic could be worth a look at 3.3. And further out, it’s far from inconceivable that Uku Suviste from Estonia will be completely overshadowed by the Senhit and Flo Show, ending up with very few televotes in the process. That makes his last place price of 10.5 a potential punt, I’d say.
And that rounds off our look at tonight’s betting markets. However you’re watching the show and wherever you may place your money, I wish you a fantastic night’s entertainment!