The venue for this year’s event is in the Baku Crystal Hall, Baku which is the capital city of last year’s winner Azerbaijan. The event will be split into three parts – two semi-finals which will take place on the 22nd and 24th of May respectively, with the grand final on the 26th May. Ten countries will proceed from each semi-final, to join the 6 teams already guaranteed to be in the final, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom and the holders Azerbaijan.
The favourite for the 2012 competition is perennial contenders Sweden, with their rather catchy dance song called ‘Euphoria’ by Loreen, who at 2.30 is considered the strongest act by far. Sweden currently have 4 Eurovision winners, joint third on the list but they trail behind Ireland who have 7 titles to their name. Indeed the Swedes have a bigger influence on the competition than many realise; Italy’s song is written by a controller at Swedish Vattenfall & Lithuania’s is also a Swedish product. All in all 10 of the songs in this year’s Eurovision are made by Swedes.
This year sees the return of Jedward of Ireland, who will be looking to improve on an 8th place finish in 2011 with their catchy tune, ‘Waterline’. However, they are not widely fancied and can be backed at 25.00 for the win on Saturday night. Both Sweden (1.03) and Ireland (1.33) are expect to qualify from their semi-finals, but it is one of the guaranteed finalists in Italy who are currently second favourite in the betting market at 7.00, with Nina Zilli’s ‘L'amore è femmina (Out of Love)’, which is sung in part Italian, part English.
Other options for the punter is last year’s winner Azerbaijan, with ‘When the Music Dies’ by Sabina Babayeva - but the combination of a fairly average song and the fact that no country has retained the Eurovision title since Ireland in 1994 sees them highly priced at 30.00 for the win. The United Kingdom are looking for a 6th title (but their first since 1997), and they have turned to veteran singer Englebert Humpledink and his slow love song ‘Love Will Set You Free’, which is backable at 12.00. Both Italy (who only returned to Eurovision in 2011) and Iceland have released quite memorable tunes and the former can be backed at 7.00 with the latter at 15.00.
If some neighbourly rivalry is what you are looking to bet on, then Unibet have Denmark to beat Norway’s entry at 1.57, whilst Greece is 1.60 to beat Cyprus and the UK and Ireland are neck and neck - with both backable at 1.85 to beat the other. It wouldn’t be the Eurovision without some tactical voting, so once the semi-finals are over Unibet will have some markets on which country will offer the fabled 12 points to, so if you think that Iceland will continue to award 12 points to Denmark like in previous years, give Unibet a visit. However, it is Russia’s group of grannies Buranovskiye Babushki, who have caught everyone’s imagination at 9.00, rolling back the years with a dance tune at an average age of 69!
“I like the look of Russia at 9.00” says Erik Backlund, Head of Unibet Sportsbook.
“As a Swede I should probably be supporting my home country, but I love the sight of 6 grannies singing a dance song in folk gear, as for me that is what the Eurovision is all about. Current figures show that 75% of bets are being placed on Sweden so they have to start as favourites, but we have also seen some surprise money on Romania (12.00) and Serbia (10.00) as well, so they may be ones to watch.”
Unibet also have a great moneyback offer on; Place an outright bet on the winner and if your bet loses, but Sweden win the contest, we will refund your stake up £30! Click here for details.