Israel Or Finland Set To Surprise

May 16, 2013 by

Israel Or Finland Set To Surprise

Despite the surprise non-appearance of Serbia in semi 1’s top 10 on Tuesday night, the view here is not to panic, and to stick with the ESC fundamentals in trying to figure out semi 2.

The contrasting music styles showcased in semi 2 gives it the feel of a semi with literally something for everyone which makes it that much harder to work out. What type of music fan will be tuning in on a Thursday night and motivated to vote? Fans of bubblegum pop, hard rock, ethno rock, beatbox, power balladry… the list goes on. And do the hardcore ESC fans have more of a say in dictating the televote result?

This is a key question regarding San Marino. It is very much one of this year’s fan favourites and has been doing surprising well on assorted polls. Valentina performed well in front of the juries last night but San Marino remains an ESC minnow and from its early draw in 2 it looks up against it.

The approach here is in seeking value and in a far more competitive heat compared to semi 1, San Marino looks worth laying at anything 1.4 or below on Betfair. While it would not come as a surprise to see San Marino qualify, its correct price should be over Evens.

It looks even tougher for Latvia and FYR Macedonia at the start of semi 1. Beatbox and Esma’s ethno wailing are surely too niche and Lozano was off-key last night making FYR M’s plight that much harder.

Regardless of the impressive track record of the last 2 slots in ESC semis, there is no room for Switzerland or Romania. The Swiss entry has failed to make the most of Emil – though there remains this nagging thought the Salvation Army hordes might yet enable this to spring a surprise – and while Cesar will be loved by the UK audience tonight for the sheer OTT nature of his performance, you have to think juries will have been very hard on him.

So, that’s 5 entries dismissed and we are left with any 10 from 12. ByeAlex has a certain special charm and is dangerous to discount. It could be fighting over similar territory to Malta, but you sense Malta is the more competent all-round package, so Hungary doesn’t make the 10 either.

Of the remaining 11, it is very difficult to work out the one most likely to miss out. However, Azerbaijan, Finland, Greece, Israel, Norway and Georgia are the 6 most confident qualifying calls.

Regarding the semi win, Margaret Berger performed well last night and you have to think juries are going to reward this bold and innovative, brooding electro rock tune handsomely. Farid didn’t bring his a-game for Azerbaijan so Georgia looks Norway’s main threat.

Having advised Georgia in this semi at 9-2 e/w back on April 2, Sophie and Nodi look to have strong podium claims while Norway still has the look of the most likely semi 2 winner so Marge, available at 2-1 with SportingBet, will be a decent-sized green in the semi 2 Outright book.

Given Serbia’s fall from grace in semi 1, there is a nagging doubt regarding Greece’s top 3 claims. This is a case of reverting to original thinking and the belief juries may have been punitive which possibly leaves the window ajar for a surprise top 3 finisher in semi 2.

The 2 worth e/w investments at long prices are Israel33-1 with Ladbrokes e/w a quarter the odds – and Finland25-1 with Ladbrokes e/w a quarter the odds. You can get 28-1 e/w a fifth elsewhere but the bet with Ladbrokes offers better place terms.

Krista was in top form in front of the juries and while ‘Marry Me’ is not my personal cup of tea it is a brilliantly well-executed pop song with some of the best staging of ESC 2013. Televoters could well lap it up.

Moran Mazor, meanwhile, offered up an incredibly powerful rendition of Rak Bishvilo last night, and this could easily be a song that turns out to have been pushing for top spot on the jury side of the voting. The alternative way to proceed on these 2 is to take the 6-1 with Betfred Finland to finish top 3, and the 7-1 Israel to finish top 3 with bwin.

Given there are at least 5 songs in semi 2 pushing hard for a top 3 finish, Azerbaijan has the look of a value top 3 lay on Betfair at anything around 1.65. Its early draw, surprising lack of voting strength in this semi, and Farid not being at his best last night add up to a sound enough case to lay it for top 3.

As for the remaining qualifiers from semi 2, it really is fiendishly difficult but going back to the original point regarding ESC fundamentals, Bulgaria, Armenia and Albania all appear to have enough voting strength combined with distinctiveness in their chosen genres to squeeze through.

The 3 of them have all drifted out to extremely backable prices to qualify at odds against on Betfair, and one strategy might be to back all 3 to a level stake in the hope at least 2 progress which would give you a 33 per cent ROI – if you back all 3 at Evens to a £100 unit stake (£300 total), this would offer a potential return of £400 if 2 go through.

So the last spot ends up a scrap between Gianluca and Eythor. We saw Birgit go through in semi 1 which encourages the belief Iceland should get through from semi 2. The trouble is, Iceland is squeezed between the evocatively staged Samo Shampioni and Alcohol Is Free.

Iceland’s voting strength in this semi isn’t the greatest added to which Eg A Lif comes across as an incredibly dull 3 minutes despite Eythor’s strong vocal. So, the 10 selected here to progress from semi 2 are: Azerbaijan, Finland, Malta, Bulgaria, Greece, Israel, Armenia, Norway, Albania, Georgia.

A quick word about post-semi 2 tonight. Again, there will be a press conference at which the 10 semi 2 qualifiers draw 1st half or 2nd half final draws, with 3 1st half slots up for grabs; 7 2nd half.

This will again have implications on the Outright and Top 10 markets. SVT has then promised the final running order to be published no later than 3am Malmo time, Friday morning, so 2am in the UK. The r.o. may appear before this so it will be worth staying up.

All of this will be covered in the Comments section below. What are your 10 to progress from semi 2? Please do share your thoughts below, and good luck for tonight.


  1. Bruce

    Thanks Rob

    Had to have a chuckle at your headline as last night I placed my first bets on SF2, lays of Israel and Finland to qualify.

    My reasoning is simply that I don’t rate the songs well enough to justify their current qualifying odds. A hebrew ballad and a kitsch novelty type song with oh oh ding dong in it lyrics?

    Not for me

  2. Bruce

    Sorry the chuckle was that we both share a value approach and yet ended up with completely opposing views.

    I know from past experience when Im on the opposite side of your views I tend to lose!!

    I liked Croati a lot in SF1 but when I saw them trading at 1.33 to qualify I thought ‘woh no way’ but didn’t act by laying. Feel similarly about these two (and San marino)

    • Rob

      I didn’t rate Finland coming into the Contest, Bruce, but it’s a seriously impressive pop package, great staging, reminiscent of ‘Lipstick’ back in 2011.

      Absolutely, you have to adopt a value approach & the Israel/Finland Q prices have certainly dropped to such a point now, they are looking like value lays at the prices. If you can see weakness there, you have to go for it. I see more potential weakness in SM overall.

      Should have added btw, another potential televote plus for Finland is how active Krista & her fans have been on Twitter, getting the ‘Team DingDong’ message out there. Good luck tonight 🙂

  3. Matt

    Kind of with you Bruce. I went with the pack on Croatia against my own feeling and dented a profitable night. Feel the same way with Israel which leaves me so cold – might be my least favourite in the whole competition. I think safest approach might be just to not get involved.

    Finland qualifies for me – it’s derivative but the package works and with a late draw in the final is still a top 10 contender.

    Im taking a small bet on Hungary as the value is there but worry that Norway following it kills it in the water. Still the old 4 from 6 missive gives me hope as i don’t see Romania and Switzerland getting home.

    • neomichael

      I have done the same with croatia too! This time i hate the song of israel.
      However Rob makes me sceptic about the mini-interview the host will have with the singer of israel.
      Last semi they revealed that the estonian singer is pregnant, and that costed me a lot!
      Rob is there anything else we know about the interview?

      • Rob

        Its a pretty mundane interview but it at least gives her a bit more airtime. I went into the Arena for the 3rd rehearsal this afternoon – amazing how different everything looks & sounds in there. It’s all about how they come across on tv.

  4. Finland or Israël set to surprise? As non-qualifiers? No way. Finland is the ‘Marie N’ and ‘Making Your Mind Up’ of this year. Music wise, not that smart, but performed with such a novelty act and sang very good by Krista. Israël will profil from a kind of Susan Boyle/Chiara-factor. Her looks are remarkable and that will stick with juries and televoters alike.

    My TOP 10 of qualifiers:
    01 – NORWAY
    03 – FINLAND (underrated)
    04 – Georgia
    05 – Greece
    06 – Israël
    07 – Bulgaria
    08 – Hungary (underrated, nice draw)
    09 – Malta (overrated, not so good draw)
    10 – Iceland (slightly overrated)

  5. Tim B

    I think that Norway, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Greece are SO strong as the top 4 that I don’t envisage any kind of surprise podium-er. However, have had a lay on Greece at 1.06 in case it’s viewed as a joke between Iceland and Israel.

    Malta looks a bit short to me, and I would be backing it not to qualify had I not backed it ages ago. Finland I will lay in-play if the value is right (hoping for 1.30) – noticed that Montenegro shortened significantly after the performance because of the stage show. Iceland a bit short now too but luckily I got on just beforehand. Armenia and Bulgaria are excellent value backs at odds-against.

    10 qualifiers: Azerbaijan, Malta, Bulgaria, Iceland, Greece, Israel, Armenia, Norway, Georgia, Romania

  6. Matt

    Tough tonight but these are my qualifiers:

    Norway, Georgia, Azer and Greece.
    Finland, Israel, Bulgaria, Malta
    Albania and Hungary (well someone has to!)

    Kept my betting small for this semi but agree the big four should have the top 3 sewn up. Hungary gives me value but of course Armenia or Iceland should prevail.

  7. Matt

    Serious doubts about Bulgaria after seeing that. Iceland knocks into a hat as well. Im changing my prediction

  8. Bruce

    Happy tonight with my lays of Israel San Marino and Finland. Think we will find Finland scaped in….

    Israel got as low as 1.3 at least that was my lowest lay.

    If anything is going to plunge after tonight it will be Romania…

  9. Rob

    7 out of 10 again – settle for that. Especially getting San Marino beat.

    Israel missing out a huge surprise; ditto Romania getting through.

    How did everyone do?

    Draw upcoming for semi 2 qualifiers…

  10. Ben Gray

    I put money on Latvia to qualify, and just enough on Finland also incase they didn’t, so I’d be refunded, which I have been. I previously had bets on Bulgaria to qualify and be top 10, so that’s been wiped out but they weren’t massively high stakes at least. I did however get it right with Armenia and San Marino to qualify and to not respectively. Overall, I made a profit of £79.11. Not bad. 🙂

  11. Matt

    Great night for me. Got 4s on Hungary, opposed SM and after seeing the show, opposed Bulgaria.

    Only prob is i scared myself out of opposing Israel. Still glad my feelings checked out…

  12. Boki

    Great night for me Rob, mainly because of SM (and some lumping against FYRM). Israel a surprise indeed, vocally smashed it, the looks did it?

  13. neomichael

    turned quite well for tonight (finland qualified, san marino & israel not qualified – i’m glad she wasn’t pregnant too) though i lost some from armenia’s qualification, when will the juries decide the final “draw”? will it be tonight?

  14. Rob

    1st half – Finland, Malta, Armenia

    2nd half – Georgia, Norway, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Azerbaijan, Iceland

    Greece to close the show? Finland/Belarus to open? Germany more likely to be towards end of 1st half potentially?

    Norway still a contender, & Georgia

    • Boki

      I disagree about Georgia, they couldn’t hold the tune on several places, very unreliable performance.

  15. Tim B

    Oh my god, how did Hungary qualify? The song doesn’t go anywhere and he whispered it. So much for “vocal capacity”.

    Cezar put in an excellent performance for Romania and it looked good on TV, so I wasn’t surprised when it qualified. Armenia through was brilliant too.

    Bulgaria and Israel missing out is a massive shame, don’t really get what went wrong there. But then I don’t particularly get how Hungary and Finland qualified either.

    With Azerbaijan, Georgia and Norway all drawn into the 2nd half, I wonder if it’s possible for Emmelie to get beaten. Have played both Norway and Azerbaijan in the Winner without Denmark market.

  16. Matt

    Disagree about Hungary Tim. It has an hypnotic feel and stands out in its anti-Eurovision way. The understated delivery is quite refreshing after the excess of three quarters of the show.

  17. My ideal running order (I don’t know where the commercial breaks are though). I made a variation of….up-tempo followed by slow-tempo followed by mid-tempo. What do you think guys?:

    01) Germany
    02) Moldova
    03) Lithuania
    04) Estonia
    05) Armenia
    06) Malta
    07) France
    08) Spain
    09) Finland
    10) Russia
    11) Belarus
    12) Netherlands
    13) Belgium
    14) United Kingdom
    15) Ukraine
    16) Sweden
    17) Iceland
    18) Denmark
    19) Azerbeidzjan
    20) Romania
    21) Georgia
    22) Greece
    23) Hungary
    24) Ireland
    25) Italy
    26) Norway

    Before 3:00 AM we know the final running order. The SVT and the EBU Reference Group are already meeting up as we speak. Then the dress rehearsals schedules can be communicated to all delegations. Sjee, must be quite a bit of work no??
    PS: I predicted 8 right. I was wrong with Israël (a surprise indeed Rob!) and Bulgaria. Instead Armenia and the (terrible) Romania got through.

  18. And just moments ago SVT/EBU revealed the official running order of Eurovision 2013. Any differences between my ‘predicted’ running order and the official running order? If you spot them, please post them:

    01) France
    02) Lithuania
    03) Moldova
    04) Finland
    05) Spain
    06) Belgium
    07) Estonia
    08) Belarus
    09) Malta
    10) Russia
    11) Germany
    12) Armenia
    13) Netherlands
    14) Romania
    15) United Kingdom
    16) Sweden
    17) Hungary
    18) Denmark
    19) Iceland
    20) Azerbaijan
    21) Greece
    22) Ukraine
    23) Italy
    24) Norway
    25) Georgia
    26) Ireland

  19. I’m afraid with this….running order, there is a good chance Anouk will be in the TOP 10 on Saturday :-/. Smashed between two no-hopers, which are also different music-wise from ‘Birds’. I have no nails left Rob…

    PS: I am listening Anouk’s new album ‘Sad SingAlong Songs’ now. Truly wunderful. ‘The Black Side Of My Mind’ and ‘I Don’t Know Nothing’ are truly wunderful moody songs. Very nice orchestrated music.

    • fiveleaves

      Top 10. Top 1 Gert 😉

      A good night here. My main bets were Romania to qualify & a lay of San Marino.

      Also happy with the draw. Excellent for Anouk plus Italy, Georgia & Ireland who are all nice greens too.

  20. I am not sure if the commercial break is before or after Netherlands. There are some rumours on the internet that it will be before Anouk. Based on last year’s commercial break after song 12. Can someone confirm this? I don’t think it has a lot of influence on the outcome, but just curious.

  21. fiveleaves

    Before Netherlands Gert…and it appears to be the only break

  22. great blog I am a massive eurovision fan from Germany

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