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Big 5 Market Preview

A guest piece by our beloved podcast host on his favourite betting market - the Big 5.

One of the many Eurovision Song Contest betting markets out there allows you to back which of the Big Five countries you think will finish highest in the competition. The Big Five (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom) are the countries that make the largest financial contribution to the EBU and thus qualify automatically for the Grand Final each year without competing in the semi finals.

This particular market holds a special place in the heart of the Bet Eurovision team, having given us our biggest winning bet in our first full season of Eurovision betting. It was 2018, and a month or so prior to the contest, Germany (You Let Me Walk Alone, Michael Schulte) was available at 8.0 to be the Top Big Five country. France (Mercy, Madame Monsieur) and Italy (Non mi avete fatt0 niente, Ermal Meta & Fabrizio Moro) were both trading at shorter odds but seemed like they had the potential to flop. Schulte's song was vocally strong and heartfelt, and appeared to carry broad appeal so seemed like a great bet at the odds. It turned out to be the case, with Germany finishing 4th overall, and best of the Big Five.

So let's take a look at whether there's some similar value to be found in this year's market (odds correct at time of writing)... It's often not the case but, this year, two of the favourites to win the Eurovision Song Contest also feature in this market. One of those countries is France with Barbara Pravi's song, Voila. There are various schools of thought on whether this can win the whole competition but given that it is currently favourite in the Eurovision Winner market, it's clearly a justifiable favourite in this market too. Voila is a classy song which we've seen Barbara perform very well live at the national selection, and it feels like a song that will carry jury appeal. Given that 5.6 (Betfair exchange) is the best price that you can get on France to win the whole competition, the 1.78 on offer (Coolbet) for Best Big Five feels a fair price.

The second of the favourites to feature in this market is Italy with Måneskin's song, Zitti e buoni. This is another strong song that we know works live from seeing it at Sanremo. Italy's track record in the competition since they re-entered in 2011 is also excellent, however I find it difficult to predict how well this genre will land and whether it will carry broad enough appeal to justify its odds in the Eurovision Winner market (best odds 8.6 on the Betfair Exchange). You can back Italy at 2.62 (Coolbet) in the Best Big Five market which again feels a very fair price given the current Winner odds. One thing to note here is that France perhaps has the potential for a higher standard deviation, whereby they could win the whole thing or they could flop, whereas Italy may be less likely to win the contest but also less likely to finish outside the top ten.

Spain are a distant third favourite in the market at best odds of 26 with bet365. If they weren't a Big Five country, this feels like it would be a non-qualifier to me and I really don't see Blas Cantó getting close to either France or Italy. Likewise, I don't think we're going to see another Michael Schulte-esque performance in this market for Germany this year although Jendrik's song, I Don't Feel Hate, is interesting and does merit a little more discussion. The song itself is upbeat but the lyrics address important issues such as online hate, bullying and divisive movements, which may mean that the song grabs some deserved attention. That being said, musically the song is quite weak and even if it captures the hearts of the some of the voting public, I think this may struggle with the juries. But, returning to the standard deviation point, this surely has a much wider range than Spain, so at 34 (bet365, William Hill or Boylesports) there could be a little bit of value for a small odds bet here. It's incredibly unlikely, but if France and Italy both seriously underperform and Germany pick up a lot of televotes, you never know - never write off the Germans!

And finally, the UK. Yet again, we're looking at very long odds for the UK in pretty much all markets and the Best Big Five is no exception, with the UK available to back at 51 (bet365 and William Hill). I think Embers from James Newman is technically a pretty good song, and has a chart type sound to it, but I also think it will be pretty forgettable as part of a Eurovision Final. Unfortunately, I'm expecting another finish on the right hand side of the leaderboard so can't really recommend this to be in the running for Best Big Five, even at the long odds.

It's worth noting that earlier in the week France and Italy were level-pegging in this market, with 2.1 available on each, and they've since adjusted to what currently feels like a fair price for both. With both countries' first rehearsals imminent though, perhaps the best strategy is to hold fire and assess those performances before picking a side. We'll be blogging our thoughts on those rehearsals throughout the day, so following that live blog will likely be your best bet of finding value in this market.

So, perhaps not the most exciting tip, but wait for the rehearsals is the best advice here. But very understandably, I know many people prefer to avoid backing things at in and around evens anyway so, if that's the case for you, it may just be worth a very small punt on Germany. Unlikely, and it may be the Michael Schulte sentiment talking, but it's going to be a different kind of contest in 2021 so this could be the year that some of the more unexpected outcomes actually come to pass.

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