|Lay Ukraine in the Exchange win market||1.98||Betfair|
|Back Sweden (each way) in the win market||6/1||William Hill|
|Play Australia to finish in the top 10||13/8||bet365|
|Lithuania to qualify (out of the first semi-final) for the final||10/11||Coral|
The 2022 Eurovision Song Contest takes place this month. As defending champions, Italy has the honour of hosting the competition. Turin’s Pala Alpitour, a 12,350-seater venue built for the 2006 Winter Olympics, will stage two semi-finals and the grand final.
In total, 40 countries are set to take part in Eurovision 2022. The two semi-finals – scheduled for May 10 and May 12 – will consist of 17 and 18 countries, respectively. The top-10 finishers from each will join the ‘big five’ – which are granted a fast-pass to the final every year – in the decider. They are the defending champions Italy, France, Germany, Spain and the UK.
The 2020 Eurovision was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, in Rotterdam, there was only a very limited attendance. However, a full crowd is set to fill Pala Alpitour. The big question is…will they be waving their traditional symbolic LGBTQ+ rainbow flags, or will it be the blue and yellow of Ukraine’s national colours that fill the giant arena?
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Form in the Book
Dedicated Eurovision fans know songs and acts are decided and made available for public consumption – via YouTube and other media channels – months ahead of the big event. Many countries have televised “X-Factor” type qualifying shows. Italy’s San Remo Music Festival and Sweden’s Melodifestivalen are two of the biggest and best known.
Likewise, genuine Eurovision devotees will have followed results and reactions from the numerous established ‘pre-parties’. These are events where Eurovision acts perform together before an audience on one night. The biggest three take place in Barcelona, London and Amsterdam.
Fan reaction to these performances – and opinion on songs and videos – tends to find its way onto the scores of Eurovision fan sites. These often prove to be an invaluable guide to punters and bookmakers alike. Many feature polls with huge sample sizes, which are a genuine form pointer.
Eurovision 2022: Best Outright Winner Odds
|Selection||Odds (Click to bet)||Bookmaker|
History is in Ukraine’s Favour
Ukraine is always a strong contender in the Eurovision Song Contest. They have an excellent overall record, winning twice and finishing second twice, which is even more impressive considering the country only made its debut in 2003. Fifth last year, they can boast an additional six top-10 finishes.
In 2016 Ukraine won the competition with a completely unfancied and pretty poor song, ‘1944’. However, this was something of a political winner as the lyrics for ‘1944’ (sung in English and Crimean Tatar) were inspired by the deportation of the Crimean Tatars in the 1940s by the Soviet Union, so this was a politically-charged song.
Russia’s state broadcaster boycotted the following year’s contest after Ukraine, the host country, barred the Russian contestant, Julia Samoilova, from entering because she had performed in Crimea.
In a strange twist, the original 2022 Ukrainian Eurovision representative, Alina Pash, had to forfeit her place after an investigation by the country into whether she had visited Crimea in 2015.
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A Loser on Points
Pash was replaced with the Ukrainian folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra. Its frontman, Oleh Psiuk, has been involved in efforts to supply medicine and help people flee Ukraine. One of the group’s dancers, Slavik Hnatenko, has also spent much of the past two months serving in the Kyiv Territorial Defence Force.
With the 2016 victory and this back-story considered, Ukraine might just win the 2022 Eurovision at a canter. However, their song is very average. A north African-style rap song with some flute input, it would have little hope if it were entered by any other country.
The song is unlikely to prove a big hit with the judging panels – who provide 50 percent of the overall scores – and it is noteworthy that the leading Eurovision fan poll gives it just a six percent share of their votes. That places Ukraine fourth below Spain and Sweden with nine percent apiece and poll-topping Italy with 10 percent.
Ukraine is 4/5 to win the 2022 Eurovision, but there are enough negatives to convince us the price is simply way too short.
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Can Italy Go Back-to-Back?
Judging by the polls, Italy is a far better bet at 4/1. The country’s 2022 song, Brividi, is a duet by singers Mahmood and Blanco. It is a ballad, sung in Italian, that has reached the top spot in the Italian pop charts. The name translates to ‘Shivers’.
Italy has a superb recent Eurovision record. It pulled out of the contest in 1997 and did not return until 2011. But since then, the country has finished in the top 10 eight times. In addition to the 2021 victory, Italy finished second in 2019 and 2011.
Sweden is one of the very few countries with a better Eurovision Song Contest record. It boasts a total of six victories and has the most top-five results of any country during the 21st century, 11.
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Sweden Can Take a Seventh Eurovision
If Sweden’s exceptional record does not get pulses racing, take a look at the results of the OGAE (Organisation Générale des Amateurs de l’Eurovision) poll.
This organisation is a network of 43 Eurovision fan clubs around the world, and it recently put Sweden marginally ahead of Italy. Some way adrift came Spain, The Netherlands and the UK. Interestingly Ukraine only came 11th in this big sample of Eurovision fans.
The Swedish entry, a song called ‘Hold Me Closer’, is performed by 30-year-old Cornelia Jakobs. Unlike the Italian entry, her song is performed in English, and it has a clap-along factor that Eurovision audiences so often like.
We like it too, and at 6/1 with each-way terms of ¼-odds placed 1-2-3-4, Sweden looks like the proverbial ‘bet to nothing’.
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Australia Could Make Waves
For a simple top-10 finish, Australia are interesting. The ‘land down under’ has qualified for the final five times from six attempts. They have also been a top-10 finisher four times.
Their candidate is 23-year-old Sheldon Riley. Third-place finisher in the 2018 ‘The Voice Australia’, the artist and his song ‘Not The Same’ has been well received in the Eurovision pre-parties that he has performed.
His voice is powerful, his song is captivating and its back story will appeal to the average Eurovision voter. Riley wrote the lyrics to the song in 2015 and said they relate to his experiences of growing up, including being diagnosed with Asperger syndrome at the age of six, living in public housing and being unaware of his sexuality in a very religious family.
Sheldon Riley wore a lavish white ballgown in his first rehearsal in Turin’s Pala Alpitour. It provoked memories of 2014 Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst, and it too could garner a lot of votes. 13/8 on Australia making the top 10 is an attractive proposition.
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Lithuania Repeat the Recipe
It is quite clear that a number of countries have looked at the successful acts in the 2021 competition and tried to replicate their recipe for success. San Marino is seemingly mimicking last year’s winners with a similar rock show.
Lithuania is another case in point. Its 2022 act is a solo performer, 34-year-old Monika Liu. She has a strong voice and a moody stage presence very similar to the 2021 French representative, Barbara Pravi.
In fact, her song, Sentimentai, is remarkably similar to Pravi’s ‘Voilà’, which finished second in last year’s competition. Given that success, it is easy to see Lithuania progressing from the first semi-final and making the main final four days later. At odds of 5/6, it is a great bet.