One of the easier things to predict about the second semi-final is the winner. I had been chipping away on Sweden at 1.5 on Betfair over the last month, and it’s a shorter price now. The strength of the package would be enough even without considering its decent slot in the running order and the more western nature of the countries voting in this heat.
One reason I had been backing Sweden was the sense that its main rivals in this heat were overrated. I like Norway’s ‘A Monster Like Me’ at a personal level but was concerned that it had just scraped through from its national final. After last night’s impressive jury rehearsal, it does look like a definite qualifier, however.
After that, my list of increasing uncertainty doesn’t follow the current qualification market. Going into the highly probable pile is Cyprus, which is a sweet slow song at the right time. I have to put Latvia in here too after an excellent performance last night, though it’s always been one of the most difficult entries for me to predict.
These two are followed by a reasonably probable duo which starts with Lithuania. This is a tremendously accessible song, well performed and there are voting allies to rely on in this semi-final. Meanwhile, Israel is as enjoyable as Serbia’s first heat song, and more credibly performed. I think it will be a televote magnet tonight.
I still haven’t got to 1.1 qualification shots Slovenia and Azerbaijan, whom I think will ultimately progress, but less comfortably than their odds currently indicate. I had actually taken cheap lays of both at those prices before last night’s jury rehearsal. Slovenia’s song has more going for it in televote terms; I can’t see many people relating to Azerbaijan’s effort at all and it’s a relatively friendless semi for them too. But Elnur was impressive vocally last night, so he just about finds a place in my list.
We’re on the borderline now, and there are plenty in with chances. I’ve ended up going with Poland because it ticks enough boxes: a pimp slot with backstory and voting allies. Monika was effective enough for juries last night, though the song itself is pretty dull. My final qualifier comes from the first half where I only have Lithuania and Norway currently qualifying. I can’t rule out Ireland or the Czech Republic, and wouldn’t be surprised to see either qualify, but have gone instead for Montenegro. The song has quality, even if the running order and lack of allies is a concern.
That means my other non-qualifiers are Switzerland, Malta, Iceland, Portugal and San Marino. That means today’s value in the qualification market has to be Iceland not to qualify at 7/4. I’ve always felt the song was overrated, and a borderliner at best. Maria has been unconvincing throughout rehearsals, and whilst there’s been some improvement, she’s still one of the least impressive female performers.
Good luck again with your bets, and do give us your ten qualifiers below.