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Semi 2 Verdict: ‘Stay’ With Norway

May 24, 2012 by

Studying the 18 nations in semi 2 during the rehearsal period, there has long been a far greater degree of certainty in play regarding the number of countries you can spot that have the look of ‘good things’ (famous last words).

We have found it hard to stray from 7 bankers we will throw out there straight away, as it’s hardly earth-shattering news – Serbia, Ukraine, Sweden, Turkey, Estonia, Norway and Bosnia. The market has it frustratingly right, it would appear, with these 7 the shortest priced contenders in semi 2.

Unless you have a bank to play with as big as Daniel Gould’s, this is a headache. The only 1 among those close to a backable price is Estonia. And the great news is, Ott really brought it last night in front of the juries which actually makes the 1-3 offered by bet365 look like genuine value in ‘to qualify’ market terms. ‘Kuula’ does have the look of a massive jury-wank – first dibs on the copyright for that just-thought-of expression in the new ESC lexicon. We reckon Ott would have gone close to topping the jury vote.

Slovenia is considered a banker by many people here but we remain unconvinced and the simple fact is, it’s qualifying price on Betfair is wrong and screams lay at anything around the current quote of 1.5. It could easily come up short when the Balkan votes get spread around, and it is further weakened by having Croatia follow it. Watching this semi in running order, you sense these 2 nations harm one another and both become rather forgettable in 9 and 10. Eva may well have come off worse last night in front of the juries too as Nina from Croatia definitely stepped up a gear and sold her ballad better. Croatia has bigger voting strength than Slovenia in this semi-final too.

In our preview post for semi 2, we flagged up Serbia to finish top 3 at anything bigger than 1.4 on Betfair, Norway (9-1 e/w) and our out-of-the-ballpark pick at longer odds, e/w, was Bosnia at 40-1. It is interesting to see how little the odds have moved since that April 17 post.

The niggling concern with backing Serbia for top 3 is that wretched 1 draw, but given its tremendous voting power in this semi, and the classy performance Zeljko put in last night in front of the juries, we are happy to stick by that advice, and suggest continuing to top up at 1.4 or bigger. Given Serbia‘s win price has drifted to 5.6 at time of writing on Betfair, that is too big a price to pass up too.

Tooji also came through the jury performance with flying colours and 10-1 e/w Norway with Stan James is a must-back if you are one of probably about 5 people in the UK still able to place bets with this particular firm online. Norway may lack allies in this semi but it has that great draw in 16 and this well presented, slick pop tune should be lapped up by televoters. Let’s not forget Eric Saade won semi 2 last year for Sweden from the 8 draw. ‘Specials’ regulars will probably have to settle for a back of Norway at around 9.8 on Betfair and trying to get matched at anything above 2.7 on Norway to finish top 3. Norway is available at 37-20 with bwin to finish top 3.

It seems a bit pointless to have come all this way to Baku and say, hey, guess what folks, we will just stick with what we recommended a month ago. So where else does the value lie in semi 2? The danger with all win bets in this semi is that, as stated in an earlier post, you could easily be throwing money down the drain taking on Sweden. Loreen performed well last night in front of the juries and televoters should enjoy her performance tonight. What we have been doing with our win book on Betfair in semi 2 is keeping Sweden a no loss (trying to get Sweden matched above 1.8) while getting the likes of Serbia and Norway in the green.

The other 3 nations worth considering for a top 3 in this semi as we see it are Ukraine, Turkey and Estonia. 17-4 Estonia to finish top 3 certainly looks a value bet over at bwin. Estonia may lack allies in this semi but its late draw and jury friendliness could easily see it get on the podium, much in the same way Maja Keuc managed last year for Slovenia in finishing 3rd after topping the jury vote, and from a similar draw in 13.

Turkey seemed to lose a little bit of its sparkle in front of the juries last night so we would steer you instead towards having a speculative poke on Ukraine at 33-1 e/w with Stan James, if you are among that handful of people who can get on there, or 25-1 e/w with SportingBet. Gaitana was on top form last night in front of the juries, and an early draw of 7 is offset to a degree by Ukraine’s voting strength in this semi (6th on our figures). With the Balkan vote being potentially split in so many different directions in this semi, this may allow Ukraine to sneak up on the rails. 4-1 with bwin Ukraine for a top 3 finish also looks fair value.

As for the 3 other nations to make it through tonight beyond our 7 bankers, this looks wide open. There is only one song to discount from calculations in this semi: Armenia. Only joking, Bulgaria. Poor Sofi. She has been hung out to dry with abysmal staging.

So that leaves 10 countries fighting it out for 3 places. Max Jason Mai probably hasn’t done enough, and while Joan did better in front of the juries last night, The Netherlands has a mountain to climb to qualify from 3. Belarus is simply a very weak rock tune and if it gets in, it’ll be down to dreamboat Dimitry but it is probably better not to base ESC wagers purely on the fanciability of a lead singer.

As well as Nina for Croatia sold it to the juries last night, it felt a little like she was flogging a dead horse, and we reckon Slovenia will more likely miss out too, and is certainly a value bet to miss out, as outlined above. Which cuts it down to 5 possibles: Macedonia, Georgia, Portugal, Malta and Lithuania.

Macedonia’s song was immaculately executed by Kaliopi again last night in front of the juries. Being a Balkan ballad with a difference, and given its voting power in this semi (3rd on our figures) we reckon it will get through but is the wrong price to qualify, and we wouldn’t touch it at odds on from the 2 draw. But we wouldn’t want to oppose it either.

We will take Malta to spring a surprise and suggest taking the 3-1 with Boylesports. It is a complete cheese-fest, as you will see tonight, but televoters may well enjoy it. Kurt was on top form last night in front of the juries, and he has put in plenty of promotion round Europe. He has the looks, the dance moves, and as pointed out in a previous post, it is worth remembering Malta only missed out on 10th place by one point in semi 1 last year with the far inferior ‘One Life’ sung by Glen Vella. The song falls away a bit in the last minute, but probably has enough about it to leave an abiding impression on the folks at home. And who knows – Malta may end up getting some unlikely jury votes somewhere out there…

Which leaves the last place up for grabs between Lithuania, Portugal and Georgia. Two things in Georgia’s favour are its latish draw in 12 and its voting power (5th on our figures) but the song is so poor we reckon juries would have punished it last night, and we think it will more likely miss out.

Our friend Donny has that great pimp slot, and maybe female viewers at home will be endeared by the blindfold, the one-handed cartwheel, the air guitar and his little boy lost good looks. But he probably wasn’t quite at his absolute best last night and Lithuania’s qualifying price looks too short now.

At the prices we would rather recommend a small speculative bet on Portugal sneaking through at 5-1 with Boylesports. This is purely down to the price. It has a poor draw and a lack of voting allies but you can imagine juries heavily rewarding Filipa’s excellent performance last night and in a weak semi such as this, that may well be enough.

In the bragging stakes our 10 to appear out of the envelopes tonight will be: Serbia, Ukraine, Sweden, Turkey, Estonia, Norway, Bosnia, Macedonia, Malta and Lithuania. You will notice how we replaced Portugal with our friend Donny there – we just couldn’t bring ourselves to abandon the lad at this critical juncture.

Good luck all. We will post in the Comments section below if anything dramatic happens in the rehearsal of tonight’s live tv semi, and following the subsequent final draw of the 10 qualifiers. We will also endeavour to flag up any other semi 2 value bets we can find out there. Let us know if you can find any other value bets too.
Rob Furber

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20 Comments

  1. Bruce

    Thanks Rob, as a fellow Tooji backer glad to see your recommendations.

    As advised bets go I think these are very much ‘on the money’ for tonight. Great minds eh? 🙂

    Best of luck and have fun

  2. Henry VIII

    Slovenia says stay away to me (or maybe re-assess) not lay. I like the Norway and Bosnia ew though.

  3. Rob

    Hi Bruce. Hopefully we have got it sussed. It has to be an analysis as much about the price, and spotting where you have a value angle. It didn’t work out with Cyprus on Tuesday; here’s hoping it works out tonight with Slovenia.

    Hi Henry – if you do not feel comfortable with a lay, you are right to then leave well alone. I’ve reached that conclusion with quite a few nations tonight, but think there is good reason to hope Slovenia doesn’t make it.

    Just seen some other value head-to-heads with bwin:

    Estonia 3-4 to beat Slovenia
    Croatia 17-10 to beat Slovenia (this could be settled on countback as both may well miss out on qualifying)

  4. Matt

    Hi Rob

    Have played Estonia a few times in the last few hours and its so forgettable. I reckon jurywank may boost it – and appreciate it offers value – but I just cant see top 3. Lithuania to beat Estonia would be my bet – but so far not found it. Its a really weak semi this – agree about Slovenia but perhaps they will get in through default?

    Malta top ten seems unlikely (poor draw, few allies) but whats the story with their garnering unlikely votes?

    Desperately trying to find value – Ukraine top 3 looks the best, but its practically a cover of Love Takes Over and draw could be better. ho hum

    I really think I might just smash Sweden some more.

    Cheers
    Matt

  5. kristijan

  6. Rob

    Hi Matt,
    It is a weak semi which may boost Slovenia’s chance but it’s still borderline and simply not a 1.5 shot. Malta could do unexpectedly well. The story is, dodgy dealings go on with exchange of pts among juries. And Malta has clear previous with essentially buying votes this way.
    Some of us reckon Louis Walsh probably directed his money to the EBU this year, in exchange for Jedward getting the golden ticket on Tues night – last one as announced as through… more fanfare for the twins etc etc & maybe why there hasn’t been a price crash on Ireland like last year on Betfair.
    Sweden does look pretty solid but always keen to find a bigger priced top 3 or e/w angle.
    kristijan has posted a sneaky leak above of the recap of songs in semi 2 – will leave it up there as will help you guys.

  7. fiveleaves

    Cheers Rob,
    I’m not playing the semi finals that big, but may well lay Slovenia and have always liked the look of Estonia for top 3.
    Especially after such an impressive jury performance.

    I shall be cheering on Joan, tho I expect the Dutch will miss out again.

  8. Rob

    Hi fiveleaves,
    You never with The Netherlands – could be the sort of tune to get an unexpected jury boost as an ESC minnow and sneak. It’s such a weak semi and Joan is certainly memorable in her head-dress, potentially giving her a respectable televote. Could be worth a speculative top 10 at crazy odds, cos if it gets through and lands a draw in the 20s, could be a bit of a show-stealer. Not the craziest punt…

  9. Bruce

    Excellent night Rob, congratulations on the bets – very tidy profit landed I’d imagine

    Feeling pretty good myself atm 🙂

  10. Bruce

    Seems great minds do get it right sometimes

  11. steve

    Well done rob top bombing beat my effort, but thought Malta got beaten by Belarus tonight so it was a lay for me that said my only loss so no complaints.

  12. Rob

    Wow, well that couldn’t have worked out much better. Hope you all did well.
    Final draw:

    Final:

    1. UK
    2. Hungary
    3. Albania
    4. Lithuania
    5. Bosnia
    6. Russia
    7. Iceland
    8. Cyprus
    9. France
    10. Italy
    11. Estonia
    12. Norway
    13. Azerbaijan
    14. Romania
    15. Denmark
    16. Greece
    17. Sweden
    18. Turkey
    19. Spain
    20. Germany
    21. Malta
    22. Macedonia
    23. Ireland
    24. Serbia
    25. Ukraine
    26. Moldova

  13. Rob

    Thanks Steve & Bruce. Great to land the 10 🙂

    Fascinating final draw… just need to pick the top 10 now…

  14. hemsby

    10/10 Qualifiers….top stuff!

    What has been the reaction to the interview where Pastora apparently voices her concerns regarding Spain’s financial ability to host next years competition,should they win?Do you think it will have a psychological reaction with the Juries when they award their marks?

  15. Rob

    Hi hemsby,
    Thanks 🙂 19/20 over the 2 semis – it has certainly helped being out here in Baku, able to follow everything much more closely.

    I think this is a complete non-story re. Spain. Classic case of a leading question by a journo and then blowing it up into a very obvious story. All of Europe is potless right now, not just Spain.
    Cannot see it having any impact whatsoever.

  16. hemsby

    Thanks for the reply Rob …I hope you’re right! It does seem however the only logical explanation for the price drift,given that IMO the draw worked out very favourably for Spain.

  17. Rob

    I agree, hemsby – draw is excellent for Spain. The Spanish price was drifting, and very easy to back, before this ‘story’ emerged. Would expect the Spanish price to contract, certainly on Saturday night, if not before.

  18. fiveleaves

    Some top tipping Rob.
    I wish I’d played the semi finals bigger now.

    Going back to the Spanish comments. Will you being going to their press conference today?
    It’s sure to be brought up, so hopefully the Spanish delegation and Pastora will clarify exactly what was and wasn’t said.

  19. fiveleaves

    Panic over for Spanish backers.
    The press conference has taken place, and from eurovision.tv…..

    “It was mentioned by some media that Spanish Television warned Pastora not to win as they wouldn’t be able to host the competition next year, but Pastora denied this and assured that Spanish Television is willing to win, just like any other participant broadcaster: “We’re here to win and TVE would be honoured to be able to host the contest next year!”