If the bookies can be trusted, tonight’s contest is down to the wire, as Italy and Portugal looked set for a head-to-head battle in the voting to be crowned winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2017.
In a dramatic twist earlier today, Italy’s Francesco Gabbani managed to wrest back control of the top spot from Portugal’s Salvador Sobral. At the time of writing, Italy holds on to number one by the narrowest of margins, although the lead has switched back more than once. It could not be closer as the acts prepare for their final chance to impress on the Kyiv stage.
It is getting tight at the top, with Bulgaria right behind the pair in third position. Kristian Kostov is enjoying shortening odds that are approaching Italy and Portugal’s – 9/4 with some bookmakers (Ladbrokes, Coral). Already, this could be a portend of the 17-year-old bettering last year’s record high fourth place for Bulgaria. But with growing confidence in “Beautiful Mess“, the entry continues to apply a pressure to Francesco and Salvador, and could well spring a surprise in the voting.
The signs are good for an immensely popular Portugal, which overwhelmingly won our hash poll earlier today. However, Italy topped a poll of commentators’ rankings in the meantime, and also snatched first place in the Kyiv press poll – by a single point, ahead of Portugal.
The odds suggest a three-horse race right before the contest starts, with fourth favourite Belgium sitting some way behind the trio on odds of around 16/1. The country had drifted slightly after the first semifinal, but after what many believe is a very favourable draw for Blanche, “City Lights” is sitting comfortably in its top five position again.
Completing the top five is Romania’s “Yodel It”, which now enjoys shorter odds overall than contender Sweden, pushed down into sixth place now. The UK’s Lucie hangs on in seventh, with recent newcomer to the top ten, Croatia, on eighth. France and Moldova still conspire to keep Armenia out of the front runners for now, in a bottom-of-table drama that has seen a great deal of switching over the past few days.
The full list is as follows:
In 2016, the bookies were remarkably close, getting four of the top five correct – but in the wrong order. Crucially, pre-final odds placed the winner as Russia, with Australia and Ukraine in silver and bronze positions. As Ukraine went on to win, could this be a good omen for current third favourite, Kristian Kostov?
In 2015, the pre-final odds were more successful, picking out eventual winner Sweden easily, as well as the correct top three countries. However, 2014 shows how a surprise winner can materialise from nowhere; Austria started Eurovision week at odds of 66/1 or more that year, and was still not a firm favourite as the final’s opening credits started up.
Can tonight’s show throw a curve ball to bookies and confound all predictions? Or do we already have a glimpse of what is to come in the odds?