Eurovision Song Contest

Eurovision Semi-Final 2 Tips: Czechia to be knocked off their pedestal

Norway's Eurovision entry Gåte
Norwegian band Gåte could spring a surprise this week

The world has had its first dose of Eurovision 2024 fever, and we're all set for a relapse on Thursday. Kevin Hatchard takes a look at the second semi-final, and has some more thoughts about Saturday's Grand Final.

Eurovision Semi-Final 2
Thursday 09 May, 20:00
Live on BBC One

Croatia holding firm as favourite

Croatia's "Rim Tim Tagi Dim" remains the favourite in the Winner market at 2.447/5, and it was strongly performed in Tuesday's first semi-final. I still don't think it will score well enough with juries to win the contest, but it's mad enough and catchy enough to score highly in the televote (think "Cha Cha Cha" from last year). Remember, the Grand Final votes are split 50-50 between televote and jury vote. Baby Lasagna really gives it some as the frontman (he's dressed as an Adam Ant cosplay), so if Croatia fall short, it won't be for lack of effort.

I recommended Switzerland as my Winner tip at 4.94/1 earlier this week, and our Nemo has only crept up to 5.04/1, so the love is still there for "The Code". The voting pattern is the opposite for this - I expect it to clean up with juries (it is the 2.747/4 favourite in the Jury Vote market for the Grand Final), but victory hinges on whether enough televoters will get on board with Nemo flying around in furry pink boots that could've been borrowed from the set of Sesame Street.

Although Ireland went through to the final on Tuesday night, securing a rare recent qualification, I'm still not having "Doomsday Blue" as a Grand Final success. To be fair to Bambie Thug, they do sell the whole "screeching witch" vibe with gusto, and the staging is pretty good (Bambie cavorts with what I can only assume is some kind of blue devil, who as my wife pointed out doesn't quite look so mystical with a mic pack), but my theory is that this will be anathema to juries. Being drawn in the first half of the Grand Final might not help the much-needed televote either.

I was already laying this in the Top 15 market, and I'll go in again to lay it in the Top 10 market at 1.4640/85.

Lay Ireland In the Top 10 market @ 1.4640/85

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Dutch courage needed to oppose Joost

The thing you have to balance in Eurovision betting is what you like and what you think other people will like. I can't stand "Europapa" by the Netherlands' Joost Klein, which is a 2 Unlimited-style pro-European banger, but this will be televote catnip. It closes the show (known in Eurovision circles as the "pimp slot"), and because the semi-finals are 100% televote, I can see why it's trading as short as 1.4640/85 in the Semi-Final Winner market, with Switzerland second-favourites at 5.59/2.

Failing foursome there to be attacked

I'm going to dip into the Betfair Sportsbook for this semi-final, using the "Not To Qualify" market to take on four songs I think will fail to reach Saturday's Grand Final. If all four of them flame out, we get a pay-out at exactly evens.

Firstly, Malta's "Loop" by Sarah Bonicci opens the show, and it just fails to catch the imagination. Yes, our Sarah is game and gets blindfolded and thrown around by dancers, but the song is pretty generic, and by the end of what's a pretty long semi-final I think this will have been forgotten.

Albania are second in the running order (traditionally the "death slot"), and there just isn't enough about Besa's "Titan" to make televoters get involved. The vocals are fine, but the staging isn't impactful, and a pair of sharp shoulder pads isn't enough to cut through here. There isn't really a moment to hang the performance on.

San Marino have thrown everything at getting Megara through with "11:11", with pink and black furry outfits, cartoon dragons, skeleton dancers and hooded guitarists. However, none of that can mask the fact that the song itself is weak, a rock number that goes absolutely nowhere.

Finally - and my Eurovision-obsessed daughter will hate me for writing this, because she really likes it - I'm taking on Czechia's "Pedestal" by Aiko. The message of self-care and empowerment is great, but it's just all a bit shouty, and it comes straight after Nemo, so I think it'll seem quite bland by comparison. It feels too early in the running order to have much of an impact, and the grungy, dark staging doesn't lift it at all.

Back Czechia, Albania, San Marino and Malta to all fail to qualify at 2.01/1

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Norway you can ignore Gåte

Eurovision betting is very much "go hard or go home" territory, and even if it turns out to be horribly wrong you have to take a position with conviction. I've got more right than wrong down the years, so I'm happy to take the risk of looking silly.

I absolutely love Norway's "Ulveham" by Gåte, and although I think there's a Marmite element to it, I believe enough juries and televoters will like it to push it into the left side of the board on Saturday night.

It's a truly atmospheric number that plays out like a twisted fairytale, and the folk rock band Gåte sell it so well. Singer Gunnhild Eide Sundli is genuinely incredible - she draws you in with her performance in a similar way to how Florence Welch does - and unlike a lot of entries in this year's contest this is a song and performance that stays with you for a long time. The staging really works, and with this second-last in Thursday night's semi-final, it'll fly through to the final.

I wouldn't put you off Semi-Final Top 3 at 5.24/1, but I'll wait to get the juries involved later in the week and back this in the Top 10 market at 4.57/2.

Back Norway in the Top 10 Market at 4.57/2

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