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Eurovision update for tonight's final

A few years back a betting preview of the final was all that we'd need but it's such a huge event these days with semi-finals and peripheral markets, last weekend's preview from @AndrewNJHawkins needs a freshen up. So he's back with an update for tonight's final. For the plethora of betting markets available, visit Oddschecker.

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Eurovision final update

While Denmark still shapes as the country to beat in this year's Eurovision Song Contest, I'd suggest it isn't as foregone a conclusion as Sweden were last year.

Indeed, with the countries that have qualified this year, it could be one of the most intriguing nights of voting we have seen.

As always, the semi finals have managed to reshape the entire picture around the final.

It's the first time that the five republics which once formed Yugoslavia - Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia and Macedonia - have all failed to make the final.

If just one of those countries had qualified, their standing would have improved as it is likely they could have counted on the support of their neighbours.

But now, with none of them involved, it is a matter of figuring out where their votes will go, with a potential 60 points up for grabs in the Balkans alone.

I reckon the two countries which could benefit significantly are Greece and Italy.

Also, with nine of the 10 ex-Soviet states making it through to the final, as well as (for example) all the Scandinavian countries, there's a potential for a cannibalisation of votes in these countries.

It's another reason to perhaps look at the value on offer for both Greece and Italy.

Let's start with Italy. I've really warmed to this song, L'Essenziale, the last three days - there's something raw about it. And Italy, since they returned to Eurovision in 2011, have polled well both times.

I personally think this is the best song they've sent, hence why I've got Marco Mengoni very high up in my new ratings.

However, he apparently made a couple of weird gestures in last night's jury final (the juries vote on a performance given the night before the final) which may see his jury vote plummet. If so, he's perhaps no chance.

That's where Greece comes into the picture. Their song, Alcohol is Free, is ridiculously quirky, and I think it could appeal to the Balkan countries as well as picking up points elsewhere. There's 50-1 available, and I'd be keen to have some of that.

I'm still happy to have Ukraine on top, despite the massive drift on Betfair this week. I've elevated Italy to second ahead of Denmark, while I now have Greece fourth.

Germany rounds out my top five, and I'm still confident a solid performance will see Cascada finish top five.

I'm expecting a late plunge on Azerbaijan, as the reports from Malmo continue to push for a return to Baku next year. I still don't think it is as strong a song as they've had in the past, and while I think he'll poll well, I doubt he can win.

Here is how I rate the 26 countries ahead of tonight's final:

1. Ukraine
2. Italy
3. Denmark
4. Greece
5. Germany
6. Georgia
7. The Netherlands
8. Russia
9. Norway
10. Moldova
11. Azerbaijan
12. Sweden
13. Finland
14. Malta
15. Belgium
16. France
17. Ireland
18. United Kingdom
19. Iceland
20. Estonia
21. Belarus
22. Spain
23. Lithuania
24. Hungary
25. Armenia
26. Romania

This list sets up a good approach for tackling head to head and special markets.

Looking at such markets, I've identified a number of good betting opportunities.

Germany (2.10) v Holland (1.66) - Ladbrokes

This is a battle between televoting and jury voting. Germany seems the type of act that will appeal to the masses, but I can't see it punished by juries either. Overall, that produces a good enough ranking. As for the Netherlands, it is a song that will be loved by juries but probably won't get too much attention in televoting. While I think Anouk's song is the best in the competition, I doubt she'll get enough public support to prevail, so I reckon I'd be taking the price about Germany finishing in front of Holland.

Georgia (2.75) v Azerbaijan (1.40) - Ladbrokes

I'm not sure why everyone is so keen on Azerbaijan. I think Georgia has a chance of outpolling Azerbaijan, and while I wouldn't be as keen as every other bet here, they are way over the odds at $2.75.

Big Five (12.50) v The Field (1.04) - Betfair

I'd be having something small on the big five (Italy, Germany, UK, France, Spain) beating the other 21 countries, given I have Italy and Germany in my top five. I'd probably prefer it to get out a little more, to around 15-1, and if it got out to $16, I'd be keen. It's a big task for them but it can be done, as Lena showed in 2010 for Germany.

Total Points Winner: Less than 225 points (17.00), 226-284 points (2.38) - Ladbrokes

It's not looking like being a runaway victory for any country this year, despite what the markets suggest. I'd be happy to have 3 units on the $2.38 about the winner getting between 226 and 284 points, and 1 unit on the winner getting less than 225 points. This shapes up similar to 2011, when Azerbaijan won with 221 points. There are four less countries this year too...

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