With the Eurovision Song Contest only a month away, fans across the continent are picking favourites and arguing furiously over who will emerge triumphant in Tel Aviv on May 18th.
However, the route to Eurovision glory is complicated. Six countries will automatically qualify for the final – the so-called “big five” of France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK, and the host country, in this case Israel. All other countries must first go through an extra voting round to whittle the pack down to a more manageable 26 finalists.
Though this system would seem to favour the big five, it is actually more likely that the eventual winner will emerge from the qualifying rounds. Whether due to the increased familiarity of qualifying songs, or simply a lack of effort from the major countries, a member of the big five has only won once in the last 20 years – Germany’s “Satellite” in 2010.
The Semi-Final of Death
According to bookmaker Paddy Power, the three favourites to win the contest are the Netherlands at 7/4, Russia at 11/2 and Switzerland at 6/1. All of these countries will feature in semi-final 2 on May 16th. As if this round was not competitive enough, it also includes Euro heavyweight, and fifth favourite, Sweden.
Paddy Power anticipates that the Netherlands will have few issues qualifying, and quotes their chances of winning the group at 6/4. Switzerland is at 5/2, Russia at 3/1 and Sweden at 6/1.
By contrast, the first semi-final is much more open. The only one of the top 6 favourites to participate is Iceland, currently quoted at 14/1 to win the contest. Greece, at 7/2, are seen as favourites to win this semi, with Cyrpus at 5/2. These two are however much less fancied to win the whole competition, being quoted at 20/1 and 18/1 respectively.