The finalists are chosen. The running order is set. Millions are preparing to watch the final showdown tonight. As Europe prepares to kick off the Eurovision Song Contest 2015 final, we take a last pre-contest look at the favourites to win.
Russia hot on Sweden’s heels
Sweden hangs on to the favourite spot to the very end, on greatly shortened odds of almost evens. Russia culminates its dramatic surge to the top, which started after it passed through the first semifinal on Tuesday, to settle on second favourite, ousting Italy from the bookies’ runner-up place. It is, of course, difficult to speculate, but some suggest that Italy’s last placing in the running order may have something to do with the slight drop in confidence.
Australia and Estonia down, Belgium and Latvia up
Perhaps even more dramatically and surprisingly, Belgium races ahead into fourth, pushing former top three favourite Australia into fifth favourite overall. Australia’s odds have lengthened slightly to up to 12-1 with some bookies – a sign that confidence is waning slightly in the debutante nation’s chances?
Beyond the top five, there is a quite a gap in odds to the closely clustered grouping of four comprising Estonia, Serbia, Norway and Latvia, all on odds of around 25-1 to 33-1. Those paying close attention to the churn of the odds will remember that Latvia, like Belgium, powered up the table after a strong semifinal performance. Aminata now comes to rest in a pre-final position of ninth favourite on average. Estonia is the biggest loser of this group, after spending some time at much shorter odds in the top five favourites.
From here on, the odds drop off sharply; Azerbaijan comes in at tenth favourite, but on much longer odds of up to 66-1; Israel follows a short distance behind.
Right at the bottom, the bookmakers agree on the longest shots for the prize; Poland, Montenegro, the host Austria and – unusually given its performance in recent years with bookmakers – Germany nestle in the doldrums at up to 250-1 available at some bookies.
The bookies, of course, often get it wrong. Odds are the expression of confidence in a country’s winning chances, a collective pooling of bookmakers’ expertise and punters’ willingness to stake their cash on a flag. In 2014, varying degrees of overconfidence put Sweden on course for the prize, eventually finishing third, and the UK at what turned out to be extremely optimistic odds in fifth favourite – Molly Smitten-Downes would go on to finish in the low teens.
Austria started Eurovision week in 2014 at 66-1 or more, rising after Conchita’s semifinal win, but still considered less than a dead cert on Saturday evening. Could the winner of 2015 Rise Like A Phoenix from the ashes of the longest odds to grab the prize? Only one thing is for sure: we’ll find out very soon.