Eurovision 2021 - Grand Final preview
Saturday 22nd May
We have unsettled ante post bets ahead of tonight's Grand Final on;
- Ukraine 8/1 outright EW
- San Marino 70/1 outright EW
- Lithuania top 5 finish 2/1
- San Marino top 10 finish 2/1
- San Marino top 10 finish 13/8
We are also waiting to hear who won the SF1 televote, for which we backed Malta (5/2), with a saver on Lithuania (5/1). The results are announced after the Grand Final tonight.
Here are the new bets ahead of tonight's final;
- William Hill #YourOdds special - Italy/Ukraine to both finish top five and France, Lithuania and San Marino all to finish top 10 - 5/1
- William Hill #YourOdds special - Azerbaijan and San Marino both to finish top 10 - 5/1 small bet
- Azerbaijan top 10 finish - 2/1 Coral, 15/8 Hills, small single
- Finland top Scandinavian country - 6/4 Bet 365, small single
26 countries do battle in the Eurovision Final tonight (8 pm GMT on BBC One) and the main story for me, as you may have guessed from reading my ante post and semi final drivel, is that Flo Rida features on Senhit's entry for San Marino and closes the show!
General price movements
Malta were one of the ante post favourites to win the competition but have been drawn in the first half of the running order tonight, which is considered a less favourable position than France and Italy, both of whom are drawn between 20th and 26th.
Malta's catchy sax entry Je Me Casse has now drifted, as have Cyprus, whose upbeat entry El Diablo was chosen to open to show. The success of both of these songs on the night probably lies with how well they fare on the televote.
Russia (fifth on) and Iceland (12th) are others early in the show who have been well received in recent weeks, with the latter also potentially drawing on sympathy votes tonight given they are unable to sing live at the final following a Covid outbreak in their group.
Iceland were due to enter with a popular song last year before the competition was cancelled due to the pandemic and they have retained a global army of followers, sporting the group's jumpers, and should fare well in the televote. They are quirky and a bit different.
Malta, France and Italy have all fronted the outright market at various points since the live rehearsals began but the real market movers have been Ukraine, who were around 33/1 in the outright market a week ago but are now a quarter of those odds.
There are several subplots to keep an eye on during the night. The first is the battle of the arty entries - the slower songs which are expected to score well with the juries.
Switzerland (on 11th) and France (on 20th) are perhaps the big players here, though Bulgaria (on 17th) and even the classy entry from Belgium (on 4th) are others to consider. Portugal have been well supported since qualifying from semi final two on Thursday and could also do well on the jury vote. France head the 'jury vote' winner market at 5/4 (with Malta second favs at 3/1) but I don't like the song and can't get massively behind something I don't like, for all I expect the song to finish in the top 10 and do very well in this particular market.
France have a poor record in Eurovision but this may well be their best placing for many a year as the emotion of the song is brought to life on the dark stage. It is very classy.
The arty entries just aren't really my thing, generally speaking. Eurovision is a family party night in my house and it is the fun, vibrant, bright and catchy entries (that usually pick up points from the televote) that tickle my fancy each year.
I've stated my reasons for liking San Marino, Lithuania and Ukraine in my previous articles - all fall into this 'fun and upbeat' category, although Ukraine is more mysterious than fun in fairness, but it is very memorable. I don't understand a word of Shum but I find the singer captivating and she holds my interest for the duration of the song. The staging is excellent and when the pace quickens, building up to the forest rave, it is party time. The "eeeeeeeeeeeeeee" end note is very memorable. I can see this song doing really well tonight. The seismic shift in their odds from Thursday (now a quarter of their old price) suggests they did very well in their semi.
Cyprus is a radio-friendly entry with excellent staging but the opening slot on the show is less-than-ideal for their hopes of finishing in the top 10, so I've also backed Azerbaijan in several bets in the same market. Mata Hari is very catching, the dark staging is superb and the snake charming music gets me everytime. Azerbaijan have a good history of finishing in the top 10 (have done so seven times on the 12 occasions they've qualified for the Grand Final) and being 21st in the running order is no bad thing. 2/1 for a top 10 finish is very fair.
The other song I thought might had had the potential to ruffle a few feathers on the televote was Finland with Dark Side. Finland gave us Lordi in 2006, who won with Hard Rock Hallelujah, and they are back doing what they do best here with Blind Channel, rocking out the arena.
This song sounds like it is from Linkin Park's brilliant album Meteora and, despite recent Covid measures, there are around 3,500 fans in attendance at the arena in Rotterham who should be moshing out when this banger comes on.
Before Finland in the running order are two gimmicky entries - Moldova's Sugar and Germany's I Don't Feel Hate. There is a nice mellow ending to the latter song and then Blind Channel blast off with their guitars all guns blazing - the juxtaposition from the show's producers is potentially brilliant, while it may also potentially work in Bulgaria's favour as they have flipped places with them from Thursday's semi and now follow them in the running order with their arty entry.
Battle of the rock songs
I think there are other entries who will score better than Finland with the juries though and, even in the battle of the rock songs, you would probably have to say Italy may do best - they are 24th in the running order and look a solid all-rounder here - they could score well with both juries and the televoters. Italy's national selection, Sanremo, gets their acts great exposure leading into the competition so it is little wonder they are now outright market leaders heading into tonight.
Top Nordic nation
I think this looks the best option to getting Finland onside in some shape or form.
Denmark failed to make it through the semis so Finland are up against Iceland, Sweden and Norway in this market. I've said in my semi previews I just don't like Norway. It reminds me of East 17 in 1994, but TIX seemingly has a good following and for them to be put on fifth from the end in the running order, they might have done well with televoters in their semi last week.
Iceland, as mentioned above, are expected to attract televotes but they are on early in the night and Sweden's song just lacks something and falls below their excellent standards.
Finland are 6/4 ish to finish top Scandi/Nordic nation and it wouldn't surprise me if they utilised their second-half draw and ran Iceland close. I'll nibble them at the prices.
To finish bottom
The UK will no doubt be touted to finish bottom but it is a disgrace if they do - Embers is a much-improved song compared to some of our shocking efforts and doesn't deserve to finish in the bottom five - but we probably will as this looks such a tough competition and we are badly drawn.
Germany are usually solid contenders in this market but I Don't Feel Hate is fun and gimmicky and I think two of the other automatic qualifiers who didn't have to participate in last weeks semis, which filter out the trash, could be more likely contenders for last - the hosts, The Netherlands (12/1), and Spain (9/2).
Host nations often send a dross entry after winning the competition so they don't have to finance hosting it again the next year and there shouldn't be any danger of The Netherlands winning again here! I've not backed them in this market, but I can't see many voting for their song.
Of those who came through the qualifiers, SF2 was the weaker of the two, so Moldova and Albania could also be in for a tough night.