Eurovision Song Contest

Eurovision 2024 Semi-Final 1 Tips: Sleepy Serbia could be in trouble

Eurovision's most famous winners Abba
Eurovision will be in Sweden on the 50th anniversary of Abba winning with Waterloo

Fifty years since Abba won Eurovision with Waterloo, Sweden is once again the focus, as the greatest show on Earth heads to Malmo. Kevin Hatchard's opening piece of the year reveals his pick to win it, and some other tips for the first semi-final...

Eurovision Semi-Final 1
Tuesday 07 May, 20:00
Live on BBC

Before we begin on our Eurovision journey this week, treat yourself and read the excellent Rob Furber's bumper guide to trading on this year's contest.

Rob is a Eurovision genius with years of experience, and there's plenty of good stuff in there to prepare you for the twists and turns of the semi-finals and final.

Crack the code and let Nemo find the trophy

Last year it was clear for all to see that returning Swedish superstar Loreen was going to win the contest, and she was odds-on in the week leading up to the Grand Final. This year is a bit more open, and at 5.04/1 I'm happy to recommend Switzerland's Nemo in the Winner market on the Betfair Exchange.

Nemo is a captivating performer with a great vocal range, and this dramatic track grabs you from the get-go. The three minutes fly by, and from what we've seen the staging will be equally impressive, with Nemo flying around on tilting discs and a spectacular light show. This should score well with juries, and if it gets a good draw, the televote can push it home.

The only concern here is that the Swiss haven't won since Celine Dion blasted out "Ne partez pas son moi" in 1988, although they did come close in 2021 with Gjon's Tears, who finished third in what was a very strong year in Rotterdam.

Back Switzerland to win Eurovision at 5.04/1

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Market leader doesn't feel like a winner

I'll often at least understand why an entry is at the top of the Winner market, even if I don't personally like it, but I'm a bit baffled by Croatia's favouritism at this point.

Baby Lasagna's "Rim Tim Tagi Dim" is a punchy rock song, and while Marko Purisic (Baby Lasagna's alter ego) really goes for it and the staging grabs your attention (the drummer wears a mask and the drum kit has pretty doilies on it), I can't see juries fancying this enough for it to win. That was the reason I opposed Kaarija's "Cha Cha Cha" last year, and he was edged out by Loreen.

Croatia are even there to be opposed in the Semi-Final 1 Winner market at 1.654/6. Ukraine's entry "Teresa and Maria" starts as a ballad until there's a rap halfway through, and while I don't think the whole thing really hangs together, you can't argue with the fact it's had over 30million views on YouTube.

The lyrics are pretty haunting, in keeping with the awful things that are currently happening in Ukraine, and considering the semi-finals are purely decided on televotes, the understandable sympathy for Ukraine could help this do really well.

Also expected to do well (bafflingly) is Finland's "No Rules" by Windows95 Man. A giant egg opens up, and who's inside? But of course, a man with a Windows95 cap and T-shirt, with only a posing pouch covering his hard drive.

He prances around singing in a rather disturbing manner, while his on-stage partner wears some kind of papier-mache cloak and teeny-tiny denim shorts.
It's genuinely awful, but I think enough televoters will find it funny to put it through.

Lilac Ramondas will wilt

In the semi-finals you are always looking for odds-on shots to oppose in the To Qualify market, and I'm taking on Serbia at 1.68/13.

Teya Dora has a lovely voice, but "Ramonda" is just too dull to cut through in a televote-only semi-final. It's in a dreadful slot in the running order, and you spend three minutes waiting for a moment that never comes. By voting time this will have been long forgotten.

Lay Serbia to qualify at 1.68/13

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Ireland were once the masters of Eurovision, but they have now failed to escape the semi-finals in eight of the last nine contests. They've gone for something very different with "Doomsday Blue" by Bambie Thug, and it's certainly a departure from the some of the recent Irish efforts.

Our Bambie relentlessly chews the scenery as the song lurches between styles, and it's not every day that you see a song that features the Harry Potter killing curse Avada Kedavra.

Some televoters will applaud this for originality, which is why it's trading at 1.081/12 to qualify, but if this qualifies for the Grand Final I believe the jury vote will drag it into the depths. Therefore I'll lay it in the Top 15 market at 1.528/15.

Lay Ireland in the Top 15 market at 1.528/15

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If you want an outsider to back in the To Qualify market, I certainly wouldn't put you off Azerbaijan at 4.03/1.

It's late in the running order, Fahree sings beautifully, and the introduction of mugham singer Ilkin Dovlatov late on gives this a lift. Azerbaijan, stung by last year's dismal failure, have seemingly made an effort to produce something authentic and close to their musical roots.

It's also worth remembering that Azerbaijan have a decent qualification record. They have made the Grand Final in 12 of 14 attempts.

Back Azerbaijan to qualify at 4.03/1

Bet here

Now read more Eurovision tips and previews here.

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