You may have noticed from my article pinpointing the best qualification odds for the second semi-final, that I feel less certain of my selections in this heat. That’s true. But I am happy with an each-way bet I have made on the winner’s market for this semi.
The hot favourite is Azerbaijan. It’s my opinion that if it wins this semi, it will win the final. So, if you fancy Safura and ‘Drip Drop’, I suggest you get the 2.66 available with Betfair for the final rather than the 2.54 on it winning this semi with a so-so draw and another handicap, of which more below.
Azerbaijan’s main market rivals have even greater disadvantages to overcome, however. Armenia only has six of its 14 televoting allies in this semi and the worst draw at number 2. Israel is missing its most generous ally (France) and is drawn 3.
There is also a surplus of females singing slow songs in this semi: Ireland, Sweden, Croatia, Georgia and Ukraine alongside Azerbaijan. This will not help any of them stand out. Otherwise, Romania is missing Moldova and Spain in this semi, its most reliable televoting friends, and I don’t rate Denmark’s chances anyway.
On the other hand, Turkey has everything going for it in this semi. Ten voting allies, being the last to perform gives it a plum draw and as a male-led rock song it stands out from what goes before. The group MaNga garnered enough Europe-wide support to win a public vote for MTV’s Best European Act last year. They made the important decision to sing in English for the contest.
Under such circumstances, this nation has an impressive record. Four times in the last seven contests, Turkey has sent a big name from its domestic pop scene singing in English. Each one has finished Top 5 in the final; one of these was victorious.
I have to admit taking 40-1 each-way for this semi-final alone many months ago, in one of those bookmakers’ mistakes that can make this contest highly profitable. The best each-way price on offer now is 14-1 with Paddy Power. That still represents reasonable value.
As an alternative, I wouldn’t have ruled out Georgia sneaking into a place at a best-priced 50-1 – drawn 16 of 17 with plenty of friends in this semi, but the first rehearsal revealed a busy choreography that could come across either way on TV.