For weeks, Italy’s lead in the odds looked insurmountable. Until today, Eurovision Eve, when the almost unimaginable happened: Portugal’s Salvador Sobral overtook Francesco Gabbani as the bookies’ favourite.
As we reported earlier, the switch took place today, on the day of the first final rehearsals. But the action has been taking place gradually over a number of days, with the two countries locked in a Latin battle for gold. Portugal had been amongst the top favourites for some time, but odds began to shorten more perceptibly as Salvador passed through his semifinal on Tuesday night.
On the other hand, Italy’s odds had begun to drift slightly at the start of the week, after the individual country rehearsals had taken place. Today, coinciding with the release of the running order, the process has met in the middle, and the countries have switched places. As such, this may be the first time in Eurovision Song Contest history that Portugal, the perennial outsider, has been considered the favourite to win.
In other news…
The sensational nature of today’s news has somewhat put in the shade the other quite dramatic recent movements in the odds. Belgium, with its late running order position, is now in a strong fourth favourite slot behind Bulgaria, a top three candidate for some time. Below Belgium, the UK holds onto its top ten placing sandwiched between Sweden and Romania.
But Croatia, fresh from semifinal success yesterday, jumps into the top ten for the first time. With what some see as a lucky 13th running order draw in, it looks like punters now see a chance in Jacques Houdek.
French comeback and Moldovan leap
France and Moldova complete the top ten, the latter having appeared as a contender after some time in the deep doldrums of the favourites table. “Requiem” marks something of a French comeback, too, after France slipped out of the top ten for some days at the beginning of the week. Both rise like a phoenix at the expense of Armenia, which slips out of the top ten after two weeks of strong odds.
At the bottom of the table, Ukraine, Belarus, Cyprus and Spain look to be the least likely of winners.
Will Portugal go from strength to strength, or can Italy reclaim the favourite spot? Or will the final moments of rehearsals throw up even more surprises before tomorrow’s final?