Eurovision 2021 - SF1 preview
Tuesday 18th May - Semi Final One preview
After two years of waiting it is great to have the competition proper back tonight.
Rehearsals have been taking place in Rotterdam over the last few weeks and tonight sees the first semi-final take place - broadcast on BBC4 at 8 pm here in the UK.
Just to round up the bets previously posted for tonight's semi first, we have;
- Ireland to qualify 13/10 to 5/4
- Malta to win the SF1 televote 5/2
- Lithuania to win the SF1 televote 5/1 (saver for above bet)
- Malta, Lithuania, Sweden, Cyprus, Ukraine and Azerbaijan all to qualify Evs, strong bet
I would also like to add a few new bets from the William Hill #YourOdds page
- Serbia (SF2, Thursday), San Marino, Lithuania & Ukraine (all SF1, tonight) all to qualify for the final - 4/6 William Hill
- Azerbaijan & Sweden (SF1 tonight) to both qualify for the final 8/11 William Hill
- Ukraine, Russia & Croatia (all SF1 tonight) all to qualify for the final 1/2 William Hill
- Azerbaijan (SF1), Greece (SF2), Cyprus (SF1) all to qualify for the final 8/11 William Hill
- Croatia & San Marino (both SF1) to qualify for the final 4/5 William Hill
There is some real momentum gathering behind Cyprus and Ukraine ahead of tonight's semi and they could emerge as rivals to Malta and Lithuania both to win the televote and the semi final itself. I think all four of those countries are bankers to progress, while Sweden, Russia and Azerbaijan usually fare well in the competition and it would be a great shock if any of them failed to reach the final.
The song which has really grown on me is Belgium's The Wrong Place. I didn't like it one bit at first from listening on the CD but it is an eerie song, by Hooverphonic, and is a real classy entry that reminds me a bit of a James Bond theme. I now think Belgium are more likely to progress than not, but I haven't given up hope on Ireland, despite the odds makers suggesting Lesley Roy is heading home tonight.
Ireland were 5/4 to qualify before the rehearsals but a complicated staging routine for Maps and the improvement of some entries which were nothing special based on the studio version has seen Ireland pushed out to 3/1 to progress. I really hope Lesley can smash the performance tonight as, in terms of the song per se, this is Ireland's best entry for many a year and it would be great to see them at the Grand Final on Saturday. It seems their delegation have been ambitious with the staging - hopefully that risk will pay off.
For Ireland to qualify they are probably banking on a few of Romania, Australia or Norway failing to make the cut, as Croatia's entry, Tick-Tock, although poorly drawn in the middle of the running order, is very catchy and could secure Balkan support to ensure their qualification.
Romania had technical issues in the dress-rehearsal yesterday but were allowed a second run through so they may still have saved their jury score (the semi final jury vote is based on dress-rehearsal performances whereas the televote is based on a live vote on the night), while Australia's Technicolour doesn't seem quite as strong as some of their past entries, including Sound Of Silence and Zero Gravity, both of which wowed the juries.
Norway's entry, Fallen Angel, seems a bit dated to me. There is a genuine story and message behind the artist, but I'm not quite sure how much of it will come across to the public in tonight's semi and the song itself reminds me of an East 17 performance here in the UK from back in 1994. I do respect the fact Tix knocked out Keino (I was a big fan of their entry last year which crept into the top five in the Grand Final for us....Spirit In the Sky) in their national selection, but it just isn't a song I would want to put through ahead of some of the others, personally. If Tix progresses, fair play and good luck to him.
For what It is worth my 10 qualification picks at this stage would thus be: Malta, Lithuania, Ukraine, Cyprus, Azerbaijan, Sweden, Russia, Croatia, Belgium and Ireland, though it wouldn't surprise me, given the vibes from the betting, if Ireland narrowly missed out and one of Australia, Romania or Norway made it through at their expense.
It looks like the remaining countries (Israel, Slovenia and North Macedonia) are probably scrapping it out for that last qualification place with them unless there is a shock or Croatia's draw proves an issue.
The Eurovision bloggers who have been in Rotterdam seem to be happy with how Ireland's rehearsals have been progressing between run-throughs but until we see the performance with our own eyes tonight I'm still a bit nervous about them, due to the big market drift, hence why I have backed the William Hill qualification acca specials above, which omit Ireland from being covered further.