It wouldn't be Eurovision without the plethora of previews from punting people who love a cheesy song. Step forward, Andrew Hawkins! What does the Hawk have in store for us this year? @AndrewNJHawkins
Wiener Stadthalle, Vienna
It’s here for another year! Eurovision hits our screens tonight, and the annual festival of cheese reaches its climax with tonight’s grand final.
As an Australian, it feels odd to be cheering for my country in the world’s biggest music event. Best of luck to Guy Sebastian, who should ensure Australia is not disgraced but is unlikely to win.
As always, it’s a great betting opportunity – if you can find the right markets.
First things first - who do we think will win? While personally a fan of Estonia and Norway, both strong duets, I think both are placed poorly on the all-important running order. I think Norway's still got some hope, but Estonia - who were the pick at the start of the week - appear to be in a world of pain.
The semi performance of Russia was sublime and it has deservedly climbed up the rankings since. It has been quite some move, from 50-1 last week into 3-1 second favouritism. Earlier today, I had it on top, finally being won over by Polina Gagarina's powerful song, A Million Voices.
However, at the last minute, I've switched allegiances and am cheering the opera trio from Italy, Il Volo. Their sweeping song, Grande Amore, will be an unforgettable end to this year's Eurovision and all the reports from the rehearsals are strong.
Admittedly, it's somewhat of a risk taking them without having seen them perform. At least with Sweden and Russia, their market rank is somewhat justified based on their performances in the semis. Italy is somewhat unknown. That is, in all likelihood, the reason they are drifting today.
The order in which the countries will be revealed was released earlier today, and it shows that it is quite likely Sweden won the jury vote. However, Italy looks to perform strongly early and the televote could swing things their way.
Here's how we'd rank the 27 countries:
24. United Kingdom
Based on this snapshot, there are six bets we’d be having:
Italy to win - 11/2 with BetVictor
Italy - song
We’ve outlined the case above, and can only say that they have now become the value bet. They perform last, so they will certainly be memorable – very important when it comes to the televote – and given Italy has tended to outperform expectations in the past, I believe this is their chance to cap their return with a victory.
Norway Top 5 finish - 18/5 with SkyBet
Norway - song
While we haven’t COMPLETELY lost hope that they can win, and are still on them at a big price from earlier in the week, in reality it’s a song that is poorly placed in the running order. Hotshots Sweden follow them and it is another one that could just go missing. Still, it’s such a good song and there is a powerful dynamic between the two of them that I expect the song to perform well. Maybe not well enough to win, but well enough to finish in the top five.
France Top 10 finish - 15/1 with Betfair
France - song
The French entry, Lisa Angell, has a woeful draw, performing second. It’s likely that she’ll be forgotten by the time the 27th song is done and dusted. However, reports from all the rehearsals – including the dress rehearsal which the national juries voted on yesterday – have suggested this was one of the standouts, both in person and on the screen. If it comes across as has been suggested, perhaps the 15-1 about this finishing top 10 could be a massive price.
Hungary to finish last - 14/1 with Bet365
Hungary - song
A completely bland, unforgettable song. It has a powerful message but it gets lost amongst all the drear. With powerhouses Russia and Italy following quickly afterwards, expect this to disappear while the stronger countries come to the fore. A last placed finish is definitely possible.
Lithuania to finish last - 20/1 with Ladbrokes
Lithuania - song
Lithuania’s song looks one of the most poorly placed on the programme, with three of the most memorable songs – Serbia, Norway, Sweden – straight afterwards. And countries that traditionally support Lithuania – a lot of the former Russian republics and the Baltic states – may find their vote directed elsewhere.
Winner Drawn 19 to 27 in final - 6/5 Bet365/Skybet
Russia - song
This price looks extraordinary, really, given it’s basically a bet on second favourite Russia and third favourite Italy, as well as savers on Latvia, Azerbaijan and Spain – all in the middle of the market. Given the likelihood that Russia and Italy will end with a bang, it looks a good bet.