With only one last rehearsal of the full show remaining 25 countries are ready to each do their best tonight in order to bring the trophy and the honour back to their specific country. The number of likely winners seems higher than in recent years.
The most obvious winners are Russia and Ukraine, but when watching the rehearsal for the final you’ll find more strong candidates despite the fact that many are still holding back in order to save their voice for tonight.
So far the new system with two semi-finals with its geographical spots seems to work. Though western countries like the Netherlands, Belgium and Ireland all were kicked out in the first semi-final it appears that the countries who were complaining about the Eastern dominance last year indeed are more satisfied now. The fact that all five Nordic countries managed to qualify are by most seen as a sign that the Contest is strong again.
This year only nine out of the ten qualifiers from each semi-final are chosen by televoting. A jury picks the 10th, but from EBU we know that in the first semi-final their was no difference among the ten songs with most points, the televoters and the jury were in agreement. For the second semi-final however a little difference appeared and one of the songs that won a spot for the final got it only due to the jury. It is not yet known which of the ten songs it is, but when asking around in the press center most seem to believe that it must have been either Iceland or Sweden.
Especially in the last week the Portuguese entry have become very popular and as she delivers a perfect performance in all her rehearsal she is now mentioned as a very strong candidate for tonight’s final. Portugal has participated more than 40 times with a 6th place in 1996 as best result. Since the semi-final system were introduced they have never before managed to qualify for the final and it is a general opinion among many fans that a Portuguese victory would be well deserved.
Another country, who has previously had problems qualifying for a final is Iceland. They have a 4th place from 1990 and a second place from 1999 to look back on, but with a lot of problems in recent years they are considered another one of those countries people would like to see winning.
In the two semi-finals we have seen that an early start doesn’t necessarily make it harder and a late start is no guarantee for a qualification. With 25 songs tonight, six more than in the semi-finals, it is hard to tell to how much influence the running order will have, but most seem to be of the opinion that it will be very hard for Romania’s Nico and Vlad who have the pleasure of opening. Dima Bilan goes on stage as second last participant and as such many do tend to think that Russia will be getting its first victory this year, but the past two winners, Serbia and Finland have both made it from starting position 17th. Greece won from number 19 in 2005 while Ruslana won for Ukraine from position 10th the year before. And as Turkey made it from start position 4 in 2003 it appears like the running order might not necessarily be so important as many tends to believe.
Sweden are putting their trust to that position 15th means luck for Charlotte Perrelli who won from exactly that number in 1999 while Denmark chose to focus on the fact that last time all five Nordic countries were in the final they won! The system has since changed so that also countries who were kicked out in the semi-final votes in the final, but as we don’t know what the possible lower viewing figures in these countries mean for the voting it is hard to predict if any of the Nordic countries can benefit from having its four “allies” in the final or if it might end up that the Nordic votes will be split so much that none of them will be able to win or even reach top5 tonight.
The Big4 countries have not done well in recent year and 2008 doesn’t appear as the year where that will change. United Kingdom, Germany and France are basically barely noticed and certainly not mentioned in a conversation about possible winners. Spain do get some more publicity, but as both Ireland and Estonia were left in the first semi-final without a ticket for the final something could indicate that the viewers simply do not vote for these novelty acts this year and that can hit Spain quite hard.
Whoever wins tonight one thing is sure: Most seem to believe that it is one of the best and most interesting finals in quite some years. People are welcoming the fact that the Eastern countries are not so dominating this year. After the second semi-final in 2007 most were disappointed, angry and frustrated and they more or less declared the Eurovision Song Contest for dead. It seems that the needed changes have brought the Contest back to life and everybody is praying for it to last.
EuroVisionary wish all the contestants the best of luck and we hope that all of our readers will have a fantastic evening and night. May the best song win! (Although many will claim that they can’t remember the last time that happen).