Richard Mann previews the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest from Lisbon where hot favourites Cyprus are expected to scoop this year's coveted prize.
With beautiful golden beaches lining its breathtaking coastlines, quaint picturesque fishing ports and a famous party spot that attracts thousands of revellers every summer, some would say Cyprus has it all.
Whether it be the glorious Fig Tree Bay or the bustling Napa strip, Cyprus has been the envy of much of Europe for some time and it seems the Mediterranean Island might have something else to cheer about after Saturday’s Eurovision Song Contest.
In ‘Fuego’, Cyprus have one of the best-backed entries in Eurovision history and it is easy to see why: Eleni Foureira’s offering is a catchy number, an uplifting floor-filler that is an instant like.
The striking Foureira gave a semi-final performance full of smiles and energy so it comes as no surprise to see that her entry has dominated the iTunes charts in recent days.
At 5/4, Cyrpus appear rock solid but those odds make little appeal for the working man looking for an interest through a few hours of Saturday night entertainment.
For those who managed to snap up the 100/1 available in the ante-post market, give yourself a pat on the back and be very confident of a big pay day.
Israel had been long-time market leaders – what is not to like about someone singing whilst carrying out a Chicken dance? – but the music is close to irritating and at the 7/2 mark, it is hard to argue that they represent much value, either.
Norway have looked big players in recent days but Alexander Rybak’s semi-final performance was cringe-worthy and though that can often do the trick in Eurovision, it hardly had the crowd jumping up and down and his own dancing left plenty to be desired.
They have drifted from 5/1 to 20/1 on the back on that performance and it’s hard to disagree with that reaction.
Recent history would suggest performing later in Saturday’s Grand Final provides entries with a greater chance of success and that brings Italy into the mix.
The last act of the night is the Italian entry and its anti-war message promotes love, not hate.
It seems sure to resonate with viewers and Ermal Meta and Fabrizio Moro have attracted plenty of support following a passionate rehearsal which showcased their impressive vocals.
With all that taken into account, the 25/1 available for this one looks well worth considering.
Sweden is another late starter worth close inspection, and at odds of 20/1, also makes solid appeal.
Benjamin Ingrosso’s ‘Dance You Off’ is an upbeat pop tune guaranteed to get the dance floor moving and given the recent news that ABBA are to reunite this year, it is fair to say there is plenty of buzz around Swedish music at present.
Ingrosso, who takes his inspiration from the likes of Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson, is one of the biggest young stars in his homeland, and he ought to handle the big occasion well come Saturday.
5/4 for Sweden to finish as the top Scandinavian act looks a knocking bet for those looking for banker material from the side markets.
Finland are represented by former X-Factor contestant Saara Aalto but her number is a shade disappointing, unlike Ireland who gave a solid performance in the semi-finals and have attracted plenty of money since.
The United Kingdom finds itself near the foot of the betting and even the most patriotic Brit would struggle to make a case for this year’s entry given recent history.
SuRie’s offering, Storm, is pretty horrific, in all honesty, and those wanting to take 450/1 would be better served using their notes to wipe their nose.
As well as being a truly terrible song, let’s not forget that the UK is loathed across Europe right now and it no surprise to see SuRie as short at 6/4 to finish last.