Thursday, April 26, 2018

Little Lithuania still look like 11th

Once again I shall take a look at the way prices have been moving over the week with the bookies. It is clear that some acts have been making a good impression and others not going down at all well while they have been doing whatever it is that they are doing in this strange period preceding official rehearsals.

The most obvious beneficiary of the week's activity has been France's entry. A week or so ago they were grouped with Norway and Sweden in the upper 20s to lower 30s, around the lower regions of the predicted Top 10. Then during this last few days they have halved those odds which is quite an achievement and at one point yesterday they were in equal 3rd place with the Czech Republic. They are at 5th position as I write but battling with the Czech Republic, Australia and Estonia for that Top 3 place.

France's gain has been largely Sweden's loss. Sweden is still in the Top 10 but that is mostly because there is a massive gap between them and the next group who have yet to break away from odds in the upper 40s to 60s. At 38 now, though, if any one of the group below, which comprises Greece, Belgium, Spain and Finland, with Italy and Austria not far away either, were to show major signs of improvement then they could fall out of the Top 10 completely. Clearly, the Swedish singer is not doing well. It never has struck me as a particularly appealing or memorable entry from the nation who almost seemed to own the Competition until now.

Saara Aalto continues to make a good impression in interviews in 100 languages all around the globe but, so far, her charm has not done a great deal for her expected finishing position of just outside the Top 10. I have a suspicion that she will actually edge into the Top 10 on the night as some others will fail to match her enthusiasm and reliability on the big stage.

Austria and Denmark have made big advances on the leading groups. Whilst still way out of the running at 60 and 80 this is a good improvement on their 100+ ratings before and both are at their lowest odds so far.

The last country to show distinct improvement is Russia. I guess it couldn't have been much worse! I am guessing that Yulya has made some better performance efforts since and, whilst not exactly inspiring anyone as the odds remain way out at over 300-1, that's a lot better than they were when it looked as if Russia might not even qualify. As it is, they're in a group where a cat howling could probably qualify if it was vaguely in tune half the time.

Out of favour with the bookies are Belarus, Germany, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Latvia, Ireland. When I say out of favour I mean they have all reached their highest ever odds since the betting started. Obviously something hasn't been going well and the bookies spies have noticed or punters are laying them off heavily now. Azerbaijan are surprising in this group. Their song is pretty commercial and I would have expected them to be certain qualifiers. Again, something must have gone wrong. Maybe some oil money will enhance their predicted bottom place and that is assuming they qualify - which I doubt at the moment.

Finally, down in the 1000-1 department, and that might as well be 10,000-1 for all the difference it would make to people wanting to back them, are Croatia, Iceland, Serbia, Slovenia, Poland, Georgia, Malta, Montenegro and poor old San Marino. Actually San Marino are not at all poor and could do themselves a favour next year by actually having someone from their own country to sing for them. They don't seem to be liked much and these singers do not come across very well at all. The other nations in the 1000-1 Club have simple chosen crap songs or artists who simply are not performing well so far.

In the fierce competition to qualify in Group 1, it still looks like Belarus may hang on and get that coveted 10th place, leaving little Lithuania lying in 11th and not making it through. I live in hope, though. Cyprus, in 9th place in that group, are also not exactly doing brilliantly with their odds hardly moving from the 130 to 140 range. Lithuania need to overtake one of Belarus or Cyprus to get through. The next in the Group 1 ranking is Finland and I can't see Saara being caught by a complete unknown singing on her own with no big effects or shoes.

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