It’s Eurovision Semi-Final Time

Eurovision 2016 finally gets underway next week with the first of two semi-finals staged on Tuesday. The second semi-final is on Thursday while the Grand Final, which will be broadcast live to almost 200 million world-wide viewers, takes place on Saturday.

Tuesday 10th May - 7.00pm OddsWon/LostBet
Eurovision Song Contest Semi Finals    
Tips Malta (each way) first semi-final    Best Bet @ 12 / 1  
Australia (each way) second semi-final @ 3 / 1  
Australia to finish ahead of Sweden @ 4 / 5  
UK to finish ahead of Ireland @ 1 / 2  

As defending champions Sweden are the 2016 Eurovision hosts, with Stockholm’s 16,000 seater Ericsson Globe the venue for all of the week’s activities. In addition to home-advantage, if there is such a thing, Sweden are one of six countries that are fast-tracked into the final.

Sweden have earned that place by virtue of being defending champions, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, known as ‘the Big Five’, have had the privilege of being placed directly in the final since 2000. It is in return for being one of the five main sponsoring countries.

If that is considered unfair what about the running order in which acts perform? Most would think this is a straightforward fair and random draw. Nonsense, the Eurovision Song Contest is a TV show and in the best traditions of television that order of appearance is decided by producers to maximise the number of viewers it can attract and to keep watching.

To quote Eurovision executives: “The complete starting order of the three shows of the 2016 Eurovision Song Contest will be determined by the producers of the show to ensure that each song stands out and to create a more exciting television show.”

And then there is another kicker… The winner of the competition is known by the organisers the moment public voting has closed. However, again for the betterment of the TV show, executives chose to manipulate the order that countries announce their votes in order to keep the outright winner’s identity unapparent for as long as possible!

These are all potential pitfalls which must be considered when betting on this year’s event. As it happens we have put these and other factors into our calculations and here’s what we have come up with.

Semi-Final No.1

Finland are over 600/1 to win the competition on the Betfair Exchange and Eurovision organisers have punished them for offering up a woeful song by ordering them to open the show.

Russia, the outright competition favourites on the other hand, have been bestowed the No. 9 slot, which exactly halfway through the running order. They are as short as 1/5 to win this semi-final with some firms.

Hills are going each-way terms of 1/5rd the odds positions 1-2-3. Resultantly they are only going 6/1 about Malta in this semi-final, whilst Betfair sportsbook, who are ‘win only’, are offering 14/1 about the Mediterranean Island.

Malta, who are 16/1 fourth favourites to win the competition outright, have a pimp seat in the semi-final performing 18 of 18 and for that reason they have a massive advantage. For me they cannot be kept outside of the top-three on Tuesday.

I’m hoping it’s a top-two as SkyBet’s 12/1 about Malta is getting my each-way play albeit their terms are 1/3rd odds positions 1-2.

Semi-Final No.2

With France and Sweden fast-tracked into the final and Malta and Russia in the opening semi, Australia is the shortest priced country (in the outright betting) left contesting a semi-final.

Their female solo artist performs tenth in this second semi but Ukraine are up four acts later and that sees them trade shortest in the betting, they are generally 5/2 favourites to win Thursday night’s 18-runner competition.

This semi may well be a tightly run affair. As well as Ukraine, Australia, Bulgaria (perform twelfth), Serbia (sixth) and Latvia (opening the show) all trade under 8/1 to win it.

With it being so competitive the votes are likely to be well spread out and so the benefit of performing late may not be so pronounced. Therefore I’m sticking with Australia, who are 9/4 to finish in the top four of the contest (while all of their semi-final market rivals are 3/1 or greater), to win this semi.

Other Bets

Of the other markets which have recently cropped-up, Betfair’s 4/5 about Australia to finish ahead of Sweden looks massive. Sweden is the most enthusiastic Eurovision country of them all but their song is not a song and it could well bomb with only Scandinavian countries seemingly liking its ‘talk along’ style.

The Australian’s finished fifth last year with a song seemingly not deserved of such a high finishing position. That indicates the country’s neutrality and lack of historic rivalry with the other 41 voting countries will see them do exceptionally well again.

Meanwhile, Paddy Power have made a mistake with their 1/2 about the UK to beat the Irish entry. It is a bet which could be paid out as soon as Thursday night as Ireland have to make it through the semi-finals before facing the UK in the final, a final they have a fast-track ticket into.

With Ireland 66/1 to win their semi and 11/20 (with Sportingbet) to not finish in the top-10 (and therefore not qualify for the final) Powers have clearly made some incorrect calculations and they should be punished.

2016 Eurovision Odds

Posted: Wednesday, 4th May 2016
Author: Chris Knight

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