Scarlat Fever

May 6, 2014 by

Scarlat Fever

After watching last night’s semi 1 jury performance it is clear, at least to this viewer and listener, that semi 1 is markedly stronger than semi 2.

The difficulty for punters seeking qualification value ahead of tonight, is that the market looks to have it about right, and if you are looking for a backable ‘to qualify’ price on a nation you are going to have to fish in dangerous waters in correctly picking a country that will likely end up qualifying in 9th or 10th place.

Montenegro is one such nation. It had been slipping down my personal qualification chart up until yesterday but Sergej saved his best for when it mattered most and the staging came together well in the end.

And if Montenegro is getting through one nation that looks to come under serious threat of not making it through is Moldova. From the moment this song won the Moldovan national final, it has never come across as the strongest entry.

The staging has not elevated it whatsoever and when Cristina tosses away her wig it looks like the moment she could well be tossing away Moldova’s qualification chance. She is up against some serious solo female competition in this semi and her gruff vocal and feisty warrior princess look does her no favours.

It is worth keeping in mind a small trend hinted at from last year’s results: historical voting strength in the semis is possibly not as big a boost as it was under the old voting system IF the song in question isn’t good enough in relation to the rest of its semi. Moldova looks an exact case of this.

Estonia was earlier advised here at 1.55 to qualify. While Tanja did an ok job in front of the juries last night it is by no means a shoe-in to qualify in this semi as it really is a paper-thin dance tune. It does have its USP given the staging package helps it stand out in the early part of this semi. But available at 2-1 not to qualify, this is one I’ll be closing out, effectively making it a no bet in my portfolio. When there is doubt, always better to close out your position, even if it means taking a small loss.

The Netherlands has had the look and feel of a quality entry since first rehearsal. It should be catnip for juries, and there is no reason why televoters won’t appreciate it too. Again, it has a USP in this semi as something completely different, has a good, late memorable spot in the running order but the value has now gone in terms of ‘to qualify’ odds.

If there is one to take on at a short price to qualify, it has to be Russia. In the context of this semi, it is a very weak effort and it really should be bottom 3 in the jury rankings in this semi if jurors are doing their job properly. And given the current political climate this could be more likely to come to fruition.

The twins were booed last night by the audience in the arena before they sang but the sound engineers cleverly deleted this from what we heard on the tv feed so the same is likely to happen tonight. No booing heard = less motivation for die-hard supporters of the motherland to get behind the song though you have to expect a decent Russian televote to still pull through, but maybe not enough given the possible jury shortfall.

Russia has never failed to qualify but my approach to tv betting is that rules are there to be broken. It was having an open mind like this which led to Little Mix being advised to win X Factor at 66-1 despite a group never having won the show previously and people banging on about ‘a group will NEVER win X Factor’.

And look what happened to Serbia last year in its semi. The Russian effort this year is a dog’s dinner of a song with gimmicky staging. This is not an especially confident lay but at around 1.24 it is too tempting to miss out on.

In terms of a value ‘to qualify’ bet, the 2 to come under consideration here are Portugal and San Marino. Iceland just feels too desperate after Sanna, and Albania’s staging has failed to lift it, while Latvia has the look of banker ‘not to qualify’ material.

Suzy performed her best last night in front of the juries. If she can do the same tonight, Portugal’s televote haul should not be under-estimated. Could she do something of a Cezar? Given the quality on offer in this semi, overall you have to fear Portugal will be crippled too much by a poor jury ranking but if the Portugal price moves to something silly above 6 it might be worth a small tickle.

The other one we are left with is plucky underdog San Marino. Valentina did a terrific job with this song last night. She was wonderfully expressive in selling the song and it came across as perfectly pitched following feisty Cristina from Moldova. Light and breezy in nature, it could grab more televotes tonight than many are bargaining for and a respectable jury ranking may have been forthcoming. It is only worth a small investment but anything above 5 on Betfair might start to look interesting.

In terms of who is going to win semi 1, nothing leaps out beyond the earlier advice flagged up here to back Azerbaijan e/w and Netherlands e/w. Dilara had been under-par during 1st rehearsal but saved her best for when it mattered last night. And if there is a surprise top 3 in this semi, Netherlands looks to have the best credentials.

Hungary is very much respected from the pimp slot. Ukraine too, though Mariya was not at her best last night. A semi victory for Armenia is still feasible despite trap 1 given its voting strength in this semi and the fact the song really should be jury bait. My book will have all these 3 more or less at break even.

Axel is not the press centre’s cup of tea and he has been friendless in all markets. But he really powered out the song with great passion last night. If he produces the same tonight this entry could yet surprise and Belgium looks worth a small e/w poke at 25-1.

The 10 predicted here to be called as qualifiers are, in descending order of confidence: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Hungary, Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, Estonia, Montenegro, Russia.

This would mean the 4 from the last 6 in the running order qualifying rule will be broken but as explained previously, it can pay to be a rule-breaker. For the record, will be looking to lay Sweden for top 3 in semi 1 at anything around 1.6, and if Armenia keeps drifting above 1.5 for a top 3 finish in semi 1, will be looking to back.

The hope, of course, is that San Marino makes it at the expense of Russia but my trading suggestions are based on price alone.

Today’s recommendations for the official portfolio:

Estonia not to qualify at 2-1 with bet365 – 20pt win (this is to close earlier position)
Moldova not to qualify at 5-6 with SkyBet – 12pt win
Belgium, 1pt e/w, semi 1 25-1 Ladbrokes
*Top Baltic – Lithuania, 7-2 bet365 – 4pt win
Qualification double (available with SportingBet), Latvia not to qualify from semi 1 at 5-18, & Finland to qualify from semi 2 at 1-4 (accumulative odds of just under 1.6) – 15pt win double

*The thinking behind the Lithuania bet is that Estonia might well not qualify, Latvia looks toast, and Lithuania, based on voting strength alone, has a very solid qualification chance in semi 2, and could end up the only Baltic to qualify for the final. And if it’s in the final with Estonia, they would have more or less an equal chance based on historical voting strength ahead of the draw for 1st half or 2nd half positions in the final, and where they ultimately end up being placed in the running order.


  1. Excellent article Rob and thanks for all the great work and tips.

    I loved the Netherlands from the moment I first heard it (odds at the time were €200/1 – which I foolishly did not avail of!). It’s a superb song and something entirely different in the ESC! I did back Netherlands in the Top 10 market – presuming (and hoping) that they do qualify this evening, do you think that they could surpass Anouks efforts last year and finish in the top 10?

    • Rob

      Hi Milo. Thanks for posting & for your kind words. Netherlands will need a 2nd half draw, I think, to be getting into the top 10, & potentially pushing even higher. That said, it really does stand alone and could be the sort of song that might still achieve a top 10 despite a draw in the 1st half of the final.

      Of course, the odds are now stacked towards semi 1 qualifying nations pulling out a 1st half draw. But no one knows the exact composition of that bowl that is brought out for the draw, or the order in which nations will pick.

      • Gert

        One important question, and then I’m gonna buy a BigMac:

        Despite the Oscar-winning cinematography & special effects this year for Netherlands (Allthough I think Italy, Spain, Azerbaijan & Armenia have shown us that too), does this….”touch” you? Does it give you a “special feeling” or some goosebumps?

        Here are some of the shots you’ll see tonight on tv:

        Thanks for all this wunderful insight by the way 🙂

      • Thanks Rob. I’m certainly hoping for a second half draw! Of course, like most, I wouldn’t mind a nice return on my few bets but I have always had a soft spot for the outsider / underdog / dark horse and I really do think that with the right draw, the Netherlands could do exceptionally well.

        This year is an odd year – by far one of my favourite years in terms of music. For once, in my opinion, I do not think that the bookies have got it right with Armenia. Its a fine song but its not a winner. Similarly with Sweden, a great song and has the look and sound of what one may generally expect from a winning country but I just dont think that either of them will do it.

        Norway on the other hand is superb. Amazing voice, great lyrics. Appeal? I don’t know but if the competition was based on talent and merit, Norway, Azerbaijan and the Netherlands would be in the Top 5…

  2. eurovicious

    I agree with the majority of this.

  3. Matt

    Its a pretty straightforward semi until positions nine and ten for me. My qualifiers are:

    and… Moldova

    The only two question marks are Estonia and Moldova and I can make arguments for Montenegro, SM or even Iceland but think the ten above are the most likely when all things considered.

    Thanks Rob for all the insight

  4. neomichael

    My qualifiers with ranking order would be:
    1 Ukraine
    2 Sweden
    3 Netherlands
    4 Azerbaijan
    5 Estonia
    6 Armenia
    7 Hungary
    8 Belgium
    9 Portugal
    10 Montenegro

    Without righting off Russia or Iceland as 11th and 12th

    Thanks Rob!!
    Good luck guys!! Have good profits for tonight!!

  5. Rob

    A good night here with Netherlands being the main ‘to qualify’ play since rehearsals got underway. Hope everyone followed the advice here and backed Netherlands as advised. 125-1 e/w flagged up on Outright, currently trading at 12.5 to lay on BF – that’s what you call a steamer 🙂

    • Hi Rob.
      I couldnt be happier. As I mentioned above, I unfortunately waited too long and missed on the 200/1 odds for the Netherlands but got in there at 66/1 before the semi’s last night. I also backed them for the top 10 market at respectable odds.

      Thankfully, as you pointed out, they stand a much better chance of a top 10 finish getting a second half draw.

      Do you know when the slots will be allocated? How confident would you be on saying that the Netherlands could be crowned this years winner!!

      • Rob

        Hi Milo,
        We will learn the full running order in the early hours of Friday morning. There will be the press conference for the semi 2 qualifiers – and there are 6 1st slots left; 4 2nd half slots.

        We have France in the 2nd half which could prove the perfect show-closer, as would Greece if it pulls out a 2nd half draw. My prediction is that UK will be placed somewhere 18-21.

        Iceland, I expect, will get the 1 slot & I think they will put Armenia at the end of the 1st half in 13, after giving it the 1 slot in the semi.

        All the heat is around the Netherlands. It is doing great business on iTunes in many countries, it has a building momentum behind it. Yes, I think it can win.

        • Tim B

          Hi Mystic Rob, can I ask you where you think The Netherlands will be placed in the final? I totally agree the UK will be given something like 21 in the final. Do you think producers will place The Netherlands a bit earlier, say 15 or 26, if they’re still deemed a threat by the time the draw is decided? There’s also the question of where Hungary might be placed – I can imagine the producers will want to give them a fair shot at winning too.

          • Tim B

            *15 or 16, that was supposed to say.

        • I have to hand it to you Rob, unlike other “euro-visionaries”, you have been the most refreshing to read and stayed consistent in your advices (you did call it and advise your readers about The Netherlands)!

          Following from Tims comments – in your opinion, what slots should we be hoping for to put The Netherlands in a confidently strong position for the coveted winners prize of first place?

          • Rob

            Hi Tim & Milo. Just been musing on this very subject funnily enough. Maybe UK in 18 or 19, Hungary in 21, Netherlands in 24 following Basim in 23 – that would be a really good contrast in Netherlands’ favour in my view – the quality of Netherlands would shine through following that Danish horror. And France to maybe close the show in 26.

            A lot will depend, I guess, on the semi results this year, and which nations were top 3. Last year they seemed to load the final from 18 (Denmark, semi winner) through to 24 (Norway, semi 3rd), throwing the odd ballad in the mix which didn’t place, to provide some contrast (Iceland, 6th in its semi, given the 19 slot).

          • Tim B

            Just pondering it some more, producers have been extremely kind to The Netherlands since the new running order system came in; 8/8 in the first half of Semi 1 last year, 13/13 in the first half of the final last year, and 14/16 in Semi Final 1 this year. Would this be taken into account when selecting the final running order, I wonder? If so, they might be given something like slot number 16, as in, one that isn’t quite number 14 the but also not particularly good or bad?

            Bonnie for the UK wasn’t one of the favourites last year and so was lumbered with the number 15 slot. From that logic The UK would be ‘due’ a later draw than The Netherlands but I agree that putting them at 24 would be a nice contrast from Denmark.

            Last year, slots 25 and 26 were given to the songs which finished 10th in Semis 1 and 2, and if the same system is used then we might expect San Marino in slot 25 and, say, Lithuania or Israel in slot 26.

            Re: the first half, I agree that Armenia is most likely to take slot 13. But will it turn out to be as simple as Ukraine 11, Sweden 12, Armenia 13? I don’t think the producers will want to be seen as favouring another Nordic country, so I’d be surprised to see Sweden at 13. I actually also think Ukraine would make an excellent show opener, and it would minimise the risk of a country with extensive problems politically actually going on and winning it.

            Probably over-analysing here somewhat but I’m ever so anxious about the final draw this year, with it being such an open year.

          • Rob

            Yes, I agree Tim – I don’t think they will be that blatant. I think if Ukraine won they would easily find another nation to host the event – probably somewhere like Poland so it is still in the east.

          • Rob

            Semi 2 jury performance, brief thoughts:

            Malta – not the best Malta have performed this. Not as good as earlier rehearsal today. Vocally shaky in parts.
            Israel – Mei’s dancers as ragged as ever. She sold it well.
            Norway – Carl did well. Very evocatively staged this. Not as evocative as Netherlands buyt up there.
            Georgia – Looks doomed in such a strong early part of this semi. Performance irrelevant.
            Poland – Cleo gave it plenty of spunk, as it were, & the straight audience in the UK could provide a similar reaction. Juries might be tough on this though.
            Austria – Conchita was excellent.
            Lithuania – This worked well tonight. Started to buy into the song.
            Finland – Lead singer had eyes closed too much, light show a little distracting taking attention away from band at times but sounded fine.
            Ireland – Casey was better tonight, but this song’s quality very questionable.
            Belarus – Teo sold it well, stylish, but is this song strong enough or all style over substance?
            FYR Macedonia – Tijana’s best performance of this tonight.
            Switzerland – Created great atmosphere in the hall. Pyros added something extra to feel-good factor.
            Greece – They did really well tonight. Was worried for them after rehearsal earlier today but this had impact.
            Slovenia – Saved her best until tonight and as a song I get the feel this is is stronger than some other borderliners in this semi.
            Romania – Cringeworthy staging, dragging it down. Could it fail to qualify from pimp slot? That is my parting thought tonight as it’s such a weak song.

          • I think we will have to start referring to you as mystic Rob. As per your musings above, The Netherlands have been given slot 24!

            Presumably this late slot stands greatly in their favor. Do you think The Netherlands have anything to worry about with the UK in the so-called pimp slot of 26 or Hungary in the second half?

            Austria was outstanding last night and clearly this has been reflected strongly by the bookies. The first half of the show, thankfully in my opinion, have the possible threats of Ukraine, Sweden, Norway, Azerbaijan and Aremnia.

            What are your thoughts Rob?

          • Rob

            Hi Milo. I think there has been a huge and unsurprising over-reaction to Conchita in the betting markets. The song is extremely dated. I will very likely take Austria on to fail to achieve a top 10 finish. This is pure ‘fan wank’ as they say.

            I think it’s a good slot for The Netherlands and ok for Molly. Will be interesting to properly take in the running order during 1st rehearsal today which starts at 2pm Copenhagen time.

            It is a nice draw for Hungary. We could be on for a very close final. I still need to think things through a little more.

            Looks to me like it was Sweden, Netherlands and Hungary in the top 3 of semi 1; possibly Greece, Austria and Malta top 3 semi 2, based on this running order. Not necessarily in that precise order.

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