The first of two articles on the big day looks at which countries one should back and oppose for a Top 10 finish. This is a very lively market on Betfair and with other bookmakers. I’m going to take a dose of my own advice, written a few days ago:
Therefore, the weaker qualifiers in this [first] semi-final look highly likely to be in the bottom half of the final and you can bet against them reaching a Top 10 position. Conversely, to qualify from semi 2 with a poor draw and/or a lack of friends is an indication that a Top 10 spot is very possible.
Who were those weaker qualifiers in semi 1? Russia, Moldova, Bosnia, Portugal, Belarus and Iceland. However, one needs to be careful about which of these we decide to oppose, and many of them are big outsiders anyway.
Russia is guaranteed many points from ex-USSR countries. It has achieved top 10 in six of the last ten contests. In three others it has been 11th or 12th. I’m not sure whether this song can match even the worst of those results, but I won’t be risking any money on the fact.
A much better bet to fail to reach the Top 10 is Iceland, which had the plum draw in the semi-final but now comes just after the similarly upbeat but better quality Albanian song. ‘Je Ne Sais Quoi’ is an inferior version of Iceland’s 2008 entry which could only manage 14th. I reckon this should have a similar fate and yet you can ‘lay’ it at 2.36 on Betfair.
So, who overcame poor draw and a lack of voting friends to win through in the tougher second semi-final? Armenia definitely springs to mind, qualifying from second spot with only six of its 14 friends to rely on. In my opinion, it now has an excellent draw for the final and looks nailed on for a Top 10 finish, as indeed does Turkey.
But you’ll get a better price about Romania, who also overcame a lack of voting allies to win through to the final. That’s because it’s a catchy number that’s well performed and will appeal to all parts of Europe. Given an excellent draw in the final, it looks a good bet for Top 10 in the final at 1.93 with Betfair.
Of the others, Georgia was well favoured with voting allies in the semi, but looked highly convincing, and I would add this to my list of countries to back getting into the Top 10, especially at the tempting odds of 2.4 with Betfair. Finally, I would add Greece to any list of Top 10 probables.