Semi 1 Verdict: Danish Drifting Delight

May 22, 2012 by

Semi 1 Verdict: Danish Drifting Delight

And so the real excitement begins. Semi 1 tonight, live on BBC3 at 8pm, or, if you’re in Baku covering ESC 2012, live from the press centre in… Baku at midnight.

Semi 1 remains a tricky conundrum to solve in a perplexing year, one of the main puzzles being, just how big might the Babushki’s televote be, and could this propel them to semi victory regardless of a pitiful jury score? Regular readers will know we have been opposing the Russian grannies. It’s a calculated risk that does have the potential to backfire but we will continue to do so.

We see Romania or Denmark as far more likely winners of semi 1. Soluna sounded nervous to start with last night but pulled it round, and in the context of this semi the Danish song really did leap out as a class apart, especially squeezed between an off-key Ivi and the wailing grannies. It is inevitable here in Baku that ESC bloggers over-watch songs so get bored with them and start to nit-pick. We cannot get away from the tremendous impression this song made on first seeing it performed at the Danish NF.

Romania has enormous voting power in this semi and a hugely appealing song. There remains a nagging doubt juries may be harsh in their assessment of ‘Zaleilah’ but you know a big televote total is assured.

Having previously advised Romania at 12-1 e/w (pauses to blow on fingers and rub on right peck), the high street price has plummeted to a best-priced 4-1. On Betfair, at time of writing, Romania is a better value 5.4. We would recommend getting on at that price if you have not yet backed Romania, or taking the 4-1 with Boylesports e/w a quarter the odds first 3, so money back if finishing 2nd or 3rd.

We also advised a win bet on Denmark in that April 12 preview piece at 5-2. It has now drifted to a remarkably generous 9-2 with Ladbrokes e/w a fifth the odds first 3. This looks great value. The best way to proceed is probably a win bet at 9-2 and cover your stake trying to get matched as close to 2 as possible for a Denmark Top 3 finish on Betfair. You can also get 9-10 a Top 3 finish for Denmark with Bwin.

Dare we oppose Russia further to the extent of seeking out other nations who could get on the podium in this semi? Yes, because this is the ESC, surprises often happen, and there is some cracking value out there.

It is easy to find an argument against a fair few contenders. Televote-friendly Greece has a poor draw to contend with and we expect it to be heavily punished by juries. Cyprus’s Ivi hasn’t really delivered, as feared, and certainly harmed her chances with a below-par effort last night. The late drawn Moldova and Ireland have not looked remotely strong enough to mount a challenge, while Iceland is seriously hampered by its early draw.

We previously gave Albania at 66-1 e/w. Rona produced a quite breathtaking vocal last night in an incredibly emotional performance. We remain hopeful this could be the springer that sneaks a place on the back of a big jury vote, and 9-1 with Skybet for a Top 3 finish is well worth a poke, looking to get matched at bigger than that on Betfair.

Among the rest, for a shock top 3 placing we would be looking towards Hungary and, try not to laugh, Finland. Compact Disco’s lead singer Csaba was like a man possessed last night and ‘Sounds of Our Hearts’ really came together when it mattered. Hungary has a late draw in 15, reasonable allies (6th in this semi on our figures) and if Csaba can produce the goods again tonight, ‘giving good camera’ on my personal advice, passed on through the keyboard player, this quality rock/pop tune could prove very popular with televoters.

Finland is enchanting and, along with Albania, the stand out solo female ballad in this semi in our view – and we know juries have a propensity to rate such songs highly. Lacking in voting friends, it could be the type of tune to receive an extra boost from juries as a minnow. These 2 nations fall into the ‘speculative wager’ category at double figure odds for a top 3 finish – Skybet offering Finland at 20-1 and Hungary at 10-1. Given Finland is available at 100-1 e/w with Boylesports, and Hungary 80-1 e/w with Stan James, they are worth small e/w bets too.

As for the to qualify/not to qualify issue, this is where it gets trickier as we can only find 6 very strong contenders to qualify in Romania, Denmark, Greece, Iceland and, on the back of last night, Hungary and Albania. Where’s Russia you may well ask. Well, for us, it’s one that looks like a cert to qualify but possibly isn’t. It always has to be about value here and Russia around 1.15 on Betfair is such a cheap lay we are happy to risk some money laying it. A potential 100 quid upside for a £15 loss?  Yes, please.

Others easily add Moldova and Ireland to their list of ‘certs’,  largely because of their late draws, but we struggle to be so confident in such a competitive semi as this. Given the quality on offer in this semi, both ‘Lautar’ and ‘Waterline’ could come up very short with juries. Doubts persist further because the fun/novelty factor is turned up to max towards the end of this semi, and we see the stand-out presentation of Austria potentially eclipsing both, with those televoters seeking to be entertained potentially migrating more towards Trackshittaz, not to mention those endearing grannies.

Given Jedward at least performed their song adequately last night in front of the juries, and Moldova’s voting strength in this semi, we are not confident enough to lay either to qualify.

The 4 we are discounting remain San Marino, Montenegro, Latvia and Belgium, but to be honest we would not be surprised if either Latvia or Belgium make it through. So this leaves Switzerland, Finland, Israel, Cyprus and Austria. We always like to take the value approach and on the back of Ivi’s floundering vocal last night in front of the juries, we are more happy to take on Cyprus, available to lay on Betfair at time of writing at 1.4.

We like Switzerland’s qualification chances but 10-11 with Paddy Power looks about right. Albania at 4-6 with William Hill and Hungary, Evens at Coral, make greater appeal. We are not especially confident but Finland is moving towards a backable price to qualify on Betfair – at time of writing 3.4. Austria at 7-2 with Betfred also looks on the big side. Israel lacked something last night in front of the juries but we wouldn’t discount it.

We see 10 qualifier lists as purely an exercise in bravado, but for the sake of ESC machismo, the most likely nations to be pulled from the envelopes tonight as we see it are: Romania, Denmark, Russia, Iceland, Greece, Albania, Hungary, Moldova, Switzerland and, as much as it pains us, Ireland.

Rob, you clown, how can you advise Finland for a Top 3 and not have Finland among your 10 qualifiers? Simple answer, dear reader – betting on the ESC needs to be an exercise in value.

If we can find some other value bets out there prior to tonight’s live tv semi 1, we will flag them up in the Comments section. What is your take? Where does the value lie in semi 1? Let us know your thoughts below.
Rob Furber

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10 Comments

  1. Bruce

    As someone with fancy prices for Romania to win, each way, top 3 and to qualify I’m looking forward to tonight with a fair degree of confidence in all honesty. 🙂
    Because of this perhaps I’m unwilling to get too heavily involved in the ‘game’ of guessing where the jury points are going and qualification bets.

    I considered a few bets, in particular Cyprus not to qualify and Hungary to qualify but despite my personal analysis methods pointing quite clearly to both I have decided to leave well alone.

    Marmite sometimes does much better than anticipated. I’m someone who actually can’t listen to Albania in full. Rona’s vocals in the ‘power’ moments grate on me so much I mute it.
    Far too many similarities with last years vocalist who also was receiving plaudits and much applause in rehearsals and whose staging was perceived as good. Harsh look, strange dress sense, poor draw I can’t contemplate it as a betting medium.

    Finland I have loved, theres something entrancing about it but I found myself thinking in the dress rehearsal that it just doesn’t go anywhere which was an observation echoed by Andrew on AKOE. Belgium I can see doing better now between the two ballads.

    So I can appreciate your value approach to these two but they are just too far away from my own views to get involved.

    Best of luck with the bets and have a great time tonight. I’m really looking forward to it and will just be sitting back and enjoying the show and not fretting too much on the betting side.

    Much better opportunities await in semi final 2.

  2. Bruce

    For us of course it is the first chance to see what you have been communicating to us about rehearsals on the tv screen and not relying on bloggers cams.
    This new factor, and the draw after, will shake my views up a lot I’m sure. I’m very still very nervous for tonight for this aspect and the overall winner betting.

  3. Rob

    Hi Bruce, I think you are very wise to adopt a cautious approach to semi 1. It really is a puzzle and a lot, as you say, is pure speculation over what the juries will go for.
    Was considering flagging up a lay of Iceland for top 3 on Betfair, now around 2.3.

    Also spotted some value on Bwin semi 1 head-to-heads:
    Denmark 9-20 to beat Greece
    Romania 13-20 to beat Iceland

  4. Bruce

    I like the Bwin selections Rob, I’d be confident about these.

    Worth giving them a mention. I joined them last year as they were best price on a sports even I was betting on. I was glad I did as this year they were amongst the first with Eurovision odds and offering by far the greatest variety of bets. At least for now they are accepting reasonable size bets.

    For anyone having doubts about them for any reason I can recommend them and no, I have no connection to them 🙂

  5. Rob

    Albania not showing 1st semi tonight, apparently. So will rely only on jury vote, and the Albanian jury vote can be a bizarre thing. Not sure it has major implications.

  6. Rob

    So, the draw as it looks now. Lots of high numbers left for Thursday’s qualifiers.

    Final:

    1. UK
    2. Hungary
    3. Albania
    4.
    5.
    6. Russia
    7. Iceland
    8. Cyprus
    9. France
    10. Italy
    11.
    12.
    13. Azerbaijan
    14. Romania
    15. Denmark
    16. Greece
    17.
    18.
    19. Spain
    20. Germany
    21.
    22.
    23. Ireland
    24.
    25.
    26. Moldova

  7. Bruce

    The way todays semi and the draw worked out I think you can reserve 4 and 5 for Norway and Turkey !!

  8. Substanshell

    Congratulations on naming 9 out of 10 qualifiers, Rob. Well done.

    What is your take on that Romanian earplug dilemma? Do you think her performance was still convincing enough to give us at least that Top3 finish?

    I also had Cyprus as a non-qualifier.
    There must have been some hardcore eurodance fans amongst those juries. lol

  9. steve

    Well done on your picks rob, and hope you got a profit. Still many questions to answer but I guess Sweden will be happiest last night. I did think there were souns issues as a the up tempo numbers sounded tinny to me, and Romania obviously had problems

  10. Rob

    Bruce – yes, expect to see Norway and Sweden dropping in 4 and 5 on Thursday night 🙂

    Substanshell – I thought Elena coped admirably with the earpiece drama for Romania still sounding great from where I was sitting in the press centre watching on the big screen. She got slightly behind, but given Romania’s enormous voting strength in semi 1, I don’t think its televote would have been dented much at all, so fingers crossed for top 3 in semi 1, and hopefully even a win.
    Ivi really did pull it out the bag. I felt a bit mean-spirited sitting there, willing her to hit some bum notes, as she had done previously, but she somehow managed to get through it much better – will be interesting to see where Cyprus came in terms of the 10 qualifiers. My money would be on 9th or 10th.

    And Substanshell and Steve – thanks 🙂 Could have done with getting Cyprus turned over but overall a pleasing night.

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