Eurovision odds 2018: who are the grand final favourites?

UK entry Storm by SuRie will be going up against hotly-tipped favourites from Cyprus, Israel and France

Eleni Foureira Cyprus Eurovision
Eleni Foureira in the video for Cypriot entry Fuego

In just a few days, 26 countries will go head-to-head at the Eurovision Song Contest grand final in Lisbon to see who will inherit Portugal’s Eurovision crown.

Dark horse Cyprus, which snuck past heavily favoured Israel to become the bookies’ favourite earlier this week, holds onto the top spot with one day to go before the grand final, while previous second-place favourite Norway has slipped into seventh place.

The UK might not have had the best run of form in recent years, but last year’s entry - Lucie Jones’ Never Give Up On You - was something of a modest triumph, finishing in 15th place. This year, SuRie (real name Susanna Cork) will be hoping to do ever better with synthtastic pop ballad Storm.

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So who are the favourites to romp home to glory? And is the UK’s entry a runner or a rider?

Here are the bookies’ top picks for the winning entry, based on Oddschecker’s current best odds:

1. Cyprus - Fuego by Eleni Foureira (5/4)

Despite its seductive Spanish title, Fuego is Cyprus’ entry in this year’s contest, sung by Albanian-Greek pop star Eleni Foureira.

A last-minute surge of popularity has propelled Foureira from rank outsider - before the first show rehearsal on 30 April, she was 34th in the bookmakers’ rankings - to hot favourite for the title. So what’s all the fuss about?

The song’s English lyrics may be classic Euro-cobblers (sample: “Take a dive into my eyes / Yeah, the eyes of lioness”) but Foureira delivers them with plenty of Mediterranean heat, accompanied by some throbbing electro backing.

It’s a catchy enough number, but the staging might be what gives Cyprus the edge on the night. Given the title, the live performance is guaranteed to include spectacular pyrotechnics, green-screen flames and some red-hot dance moves.

If Fuego does manage to take the title in Lisbon, it will be a moment of glory for Cyprus which, despite a yearly ‘douze points’ boost from neighbouring Greece, has yet to win a Eurovision Song Contest.

2. Israel - Toy by Netta (6/1)

A victory for Netta would be a triumphant return to form for Israel, who spent 2011-2014 in the Eurovision wilderness without qualifying for a final. Their 2017 entry also failed to make a splash, finishing at an underwhelming 23rd out of 26.

Toy was the bookies’ favourite until Cyprus’ last-minute surge, and with good reason. Most importantly, it’s memorable: eschewing the usual soaring Europop synth sound for a quirky, klezmer-tinged empowerment belter that’s already a number one hit in its homeland.

3. France - Mercy by Madame Monsieur (7/1)

Mercy’s deceptively chilled country-pop vibe conceals lyrics which touch on the refugee crisis, telling the story of a girl born at sea and rescued by a ship.

Sombre topics can go either way at Eurovision - as France itself learnt to its cost in 2015, when its dour First World War-themed entry finished with a paltry four points - but Mercy’s feather-light brush with current affairs should go over a bit better.

4. Lithuania - When We’re Old by Ieva Zasimauskaitė (22/1)

Ieva Zasimauskaitė’s heartfelt acoustic ballad When We’re Old could not be further from the synth-heavy Europop sound usually associated with a true Eurovision barnburner, but the Lithuanian entry has slowly worked its way into the bookies’ top three.

Last year, it was a decidedly un-Eurovision quirky jazz waltz that won the contest for Portugal, so there’s no reason Lithuanian can’t do the same on Saturday night.

When We’re Old is unabashedly slow-going - no dramatic midway key change here - but it’s charming nonetheless, slickly produced and crooned with stripped back style by Zasimauskaitė, who gives off a strong Regina Spektor vibe.

While the acoustic ballad’s uncanny resemblance to a building society advert soundtrack is unlikely to win over UK televoters, its technical polish should find favour with the judging panel.

What about the UK entry?

Well, we’re afraid you’ll have to look a bit further down the bookmakers’ rankings before you find the UK’s entry. Storm by SuRie

Although the semi-finals will winnow the field (as one of the ‘Big Five’ major backers of the contest, the UK gets a free pass to the final), Storm remains a long shot, with bookies giving her odds of between 100/1 to 450/1 - putting the UK just ahead of last-place Serbia.

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