Worth A Few Bob

May 10, 2016 by

Worth A Few Bob

Is Russia a penalty kick to win this semi? Many think so and have been keen to pile on as low as 1.3 on Betfair.

Sergey performed the song well in front of the juries last night, and it all came together visually, but he has some significant competition on the jury side of the equation from the likes of The Netherlands, Czech Republic and Armenia to name but three.

Probably the only below-par performance last night came from Samra for Azerbaijan. They have tried their best to turn her mic down and have her drowned out by backing vocalists, but you could still hear how inconsistent she is throughout and if juries are doing their job properly she should really be penalised for being so transparently reliant on her backing vocals.

This is a friendly semi for Azerbaijan and it can likely rely on points from the likes of Czech Republic, Russia, Malta, Moldova, Cyprus and Hungary.

Azerbaijan came close to NQ last year, qualifying in 10th, and the previous year it only got through in 9th. In an ideal world the EBU might quite like to see both Greece and Azerbaijan go out in this semi, and lose their 100% qualification records, because it would convey the message it is a more open competition now and countries can’t rely on voting power alone. That said, Azerbaijan is never one you could feel confident about laying for qualification.

In descending order of confidence, the call here is Russia, Armenia, Netherlands, Iceland, Czech Republic, Malta and Cyprus all making it through.

Russia is a given as is Armenia. Malta has the pimp slot and some decent visuals to help elevate the somewhat lacklustre ‘Walk On Water’. Iceland and Cyprus both have the requisite USP to rise above many of their rivals, while Douwe Bob and Gabriela should be high on the jury scoring charts for their excellent vocals and all-round quality. The Netherlands could be a small bit of value to grab a podium place in semi 1, available at 5-2 at time of posting.

Bosnia & H would be the 8th selection. They performed well last night, with Ana Rucner the shining light as always. Bosnia has a great running order slot, and a decent spread of voting allies in this semi which should see it through but 4-6 for Bosnia & H to qualify doesn’t make much appeal.

It will come across as a rather peculiar song for Western European viewers tonight and with Betfair being UK-centric it might even drift out in price during live in-running betting.

Greece has its diaspora and is competently performed but it is hamstrung by its early draw and looks likely to lose its 100% qualification record. Finland feels like it is usurped by Lidia from Moldova and her astronaut but along with San Marino’s Serhat and Highway from Montenegro they all look up against it.

Azerbaijan is probably fighting it out for the last 2 qualifying places together with Croatia, Estonia, Hungary and, at a push, Austria.

Among the 2 solo males, this is a marginally more friendly semi for Hungary compared to Estonia and Freddie delivered a passionate performance last night.

Juri, to be fair, raised his game for Estonia too, and has the better running order position but I think the Hungarian song is stronger and Freddie is more voteable whereas Juri offers up some strange looks during his 3 minutes and simply isn’t a natural performer.

Austria is kind of cute in a Zlata Ognevich 2013 way and Zoe is an excellent vocalist, but Austria is desperately lacking voting allies in this semi and Zoe will have to hope she can work her magic in charming enough televoters this evening.

Croatia is back in the Contest for the first time since 2013 and has missed out on qualification in 5 of the last 7 years it has competed. Nina had been struggling throughout rehearsals before saving her best for when it mattered most last night in front of the juries.

She has a poor running order position in 5 and the fact they have decided to dress her in what looks like a set of curtains at the start of the song is visually off-putting.

Croatia also doesn’t have many friends in this semi with only Austria and Malta historically offering it some support outside its Balkan buddies Bosnia & H and Montenegro. Overall, it looks up against it but could not be a confident call for non-qualification as ‘Lighthouse’ remains a decent enough ballad.

As much as it would feel like justice if Azerbaijan misses out, and as much as it pains me, its later running order and its voting strength in this semi has to make Samra the marginal call over Nina.

The one that impressed most last night was Armenia. Iveta owns the performance, was vocally excellent delivering a very demanding 3 minutes, the visual show is compelling and compared to the somewhat synthetic Russia, Armenia looks and sounds like high art.

Armenia could even topple Russia in this semi, because like Russia it has plenty of televoting power and Iveta has the potential to beat Sergey by enough of a margin on the jury side of the equation to fend him off overall.

It will be interesting to see the tv viewer reaction to both Russia and Armenia this evening and the impact this has on the Outright market. If they are 1st and 2nd in semi 1, a long way ahead of the rest, that should ensure both of them are given a slot in the Grand Final no lower than 10.

The difficulty for the EBU/SVT will be if Russia and Armenia tonight and Ukraine on Thursday all pull out first half draws because with France to accommodate as well, that could mean having to squeeze them all into slots 10-13, with Sweden already in slot 9.

After Periscope-gate, the EBU has just announced the Russian jury result will stand, with one voting result declared invalid so just the 4 jury scores counted for this semi-final, and a replacement judge likely to be drafted in for Saturday’s final.

Purely for fun, and bragging rights, my ten qualifiers are: Russia, Armenia, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Malta, Iceland, Cyprus, Bosnia & H, Hungary, Azerbaijan.

Independently, Tim B has come up with the exact same list of 10 qualifiers for semi 1. He rates Finland’s qualification chances better than its current Back odds of 9.6 on Betfair suggest and he advises playing the odds this evening – seeking the value either on the Back or Lay side of the equation – in the scrap for those tight qualifying spots from 8th-10th.

Good luck with all your investments tonight. Please feel free to post your 10 qualifiers below and don’t forget to tune in for the live press conference following semi-final 1 when we will see the 10 qualifiers draw for first half/second half in the Grand Final.


  1. MGR


    Ceci est la fin !!! La France a remporté le Concours Eurovision de la chanson 2016 par la meilleure liaison réalisée sur scène (global perpendicularité / verticalité , herméticité / étanchéité, colle / glu)!! Les félicitations!!!

    • Mark Dowd

      Vous plaisantez..?? Amir ne peut pas chanter bien. C’est traqique mais c’est vrai. Tant pis.

  2. Matt

    And now for a sensible comment!

    Agree with the 8 most people see:


    And then its two from Greece, Hungary, Azerbaijan, Estonia and Croatia (with Finland as an unlikely, lively outsider).

    So the last two are in my opinion are:

    good luck all

  3. Steve

    Aha,just literally posted this on Facebook!

    Russia (doh!)
    Czech Republic
    Bosnia and Herzegovina
    Azerbaijan (or Hungary)

    Good luck to everyone tonight and thanks for your invaluable input Rob.

  4. Boki

    I had a great pleasure watching the rehearsals in the press center for the 1st time and sharing the table with the Four Horsemen of Betting Apocalypse. It was a roller-coaster experience with some time needed to climb and then just a non-stop crazy ride till yesterday evening. I’m now back home as initially planned and already looking forward to the next year (somewhere in the East I believe). Good luck to everyone tonight!

  5. I think the moment of silence during the Dutch entry works better with a stuffed Ericsson Globe. And that was the case with Netherlands tonight. Add to that Douwe Bob’s spontaneous “And I love you too baby”….and this moment of silence actually comes across very effective for me.

    Most importantly……and I’m by no means bragging….but I think Netherlands really stood out. In a similar way like The Olsen Brothers back in 2000, or Ira Losco in 2002. Douwe Bob is oozing charisma and I got goosebumps from him. Again, I am very critical…and I had Netherlands as a potential non-qualifier when I heard the song for the very first time. I think, even from 1st half, Netherlands is now probably in the TOP 10 again.

  6. Rob

    8 out of 10 a reasonable result. Not entirely surprised Austria and Croatia made it. Coming to Stockholm I was very much against Iceland but was completely turned around by what I saw in rehearsals.

    I hope it’s Armenia and Netherlands on the podium with Russia but an outside chance Cyprus/Czech Republic crept in.

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