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Eurovision Song Contest 2019: Ten contenders to win in Tel Aviv

There's only one place to find unity within European borders these days and that's the annual Eurovision Song Contest which takes place in Tel Aviv in May.

Israel may not sound like a natural home for the 64th edition of Eurovision but that's because Netta won the competition last year with the quirky 'Toy' and the winning nation customarily hosts the event in the following year.

Forty-one countries are fighting it out in a spirit of love and harmony as things stand and you can check our Eurovision live betting odds by clicking on the link, although that figure will be whittled down to 26 for the Grand Final.

Ten countries from each of the two semi-finals will be seeking enough votes to join the big five of the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, plus host nation Israel for the big night on May 18.

Where is the Eurovision Song Contest?

Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel

When is the Eurovision Song Contest?

Semi-finals on May 14 and 16; final on May 18

So, who will win this year's Eurovision Song Contest? The UK don't seem to have a hope with Michael Rice's 'Bigger than us' 125/1 in the Eurovision betting, but we've looked at some of the leading contenders in the Eurovision betting odds to give you a flavour of which acts stand a chance of winning.

Netherlands

Performer: Duncan Laurence

Song: Arcade

Eurovision odds: 3/1

Previous wins: 4 (1957, 1959, 1969, 1975)

The Dutch had a golden spell of four wins in a 19-year spell from the 1950s to the mid-70s but it's been slim pickings since then, although they went close in 2014 when the Common Linnets finished runner-up in Copenhagen with the song 'Calm after the Storm'.

Lead singer that night, Waylon, was also Holland's representative last year with the country rock song 'Outlaw in 'Em' which finished 18th, but this year the Dutch have gone for a softer edge with Duncan Laurence's dreamy ballad 'Arcade' which is sung in English and is favourite in the Eurovision odds with more than three million views on the competition's YouTube channel.

Laurence said: "Arcade was inspired by the story of someone I loved deeply, who died at a young age. The words, chords and melodies came to me automatically as if they fell from the sky.

"Arcade is a song about longing for love, longing for something that seems out of reach. And it speaks of hope. Hope, that you will find what you need in life."

Russia

Performer: Sergey Lazarev

Song: Scream

Eurovision odds: 7/2

Previous wins: 1 (2008)

Russia failed to qualify for the Grand Final for the first time since 1996 with last year's entry, but they are second favourites in the Eurovision betting with this song from Sergey Lazarev, a well-known singer, actor and presenter who is back for another stab having finished third in 2016 with 'You are the only one'.

The 35-year-old former boyband member with Smash!! topped the viewers' televotes that year and could be in the frame again with this melancholic, tuneful ditty.

Switzerland

Performer: Luca Hanni

Song: She got me

Eurovision odds: 7/1

Previous wins: 2 (1956, 1988)

The Swiss have been more miss than hit at Eurovision lately with four successive failed attempts at reaching the Grand Final, but the poppy 'She got me' is amongst the favourites to win the annual song contest.

As a 17-year-old, Hanni won Germany's version of Pop Idol and this accomplished dancer is expected to wow judges and TV audience alike with some slick moves.

Sweden

Performer: John Lundvik

Song: Too late for love

Eurovision odds: 8/1

Previous wins: 6 (1974, 1984, 1991, 1999, 2012, 2015)

Only Ireland have won the Eurovision Song Contest more times than Sweden who are unlikely to ever produce a band as good as their first winner.

ABBA took the honours with Waterloo in 1974 and this year London-born composer John Lundvik has a lot to live up to with Sweden finishing in the top seven in each of the last five years.

The 36-year-old former sprinter will not only be going for gold with the uplifting 'Too late for love', the song he wrote, he also has UK connections as one of the co-writers of Michael Rice's 'Bigger than us'.

Iceland

Performer: Hatari

Song: Hatrio mun sigra

Eurovision odds: 12/1

Previous wins: 0

There's usually one act with an air of controversy at Eurovision and this year it's the turn of Iceland's performance art collective Hatari whose anti-capitalist message in their song 'Hate will prevail' is bound to go down a storm in a conservative country like Israel.

Hatari have already made enemies by saying Iceland should not be competing in Israel and are planning to make a protest against the host nation's policy towards Palestinians. Nicole they certainly ain't, but if you want your guys dressed in bondage gear to steal the show this could be the act for you.

The Reykjavik collective explained: "We cannot change things, but we can unveil the anomie of neoliberal society, the pointlessness of every minute spent in the futile race, and the low price for which man now sells himself ever more blatantly."

Ballsy, bold and bound to cause offence, especially with their pro-Palestinian views. Get the popcorn out, it's going to be a fun ride with Hatari in town.

Italy

Performer: Mahmood

Song: Soldi

Eurovision odds: 15/1

Previous wins: 2 (1964, 1990)

As a member of one of the big five nations, 26-year-old R&B singer-songwriter Alessandro Mahmoud, AKA Mahmood, is guaranteed a place in the final where he will perform 'Soldi', a massive hit in his native Italy which won the Sanremo Festival in February.

The song also made the top 50 in Spotify's global top 50 so it potentially has the sort of worldwide appeal capable of giving Italy their first win in nearly 30 years.

Italy have performed well recently with three top-six finishes in the last four years and Eurovision Song Contest odds of 15/1 suggest they can be in the mix again.

Cyprus

Performer: Tamta

Song: Replay

Eurovision odds: 20/1

Previous wins: 0

Cyprus have never won the Eurovision Song Contest but produced their best ever showing last year when Eleni Foureira's Fuego finished runner-up to Netta's Toy.

This year, it's the turn of Georgian-Greek fashion icon Tamta to pull out all the stops with dance track Replay, a song which has been compared with Fuego.

Tamta hopes to draw on support from fans in Georgia and Greece where she has been an X-Factor judge in both countries for the last five years.

She told broadcaster KAN: "I was born and raised in Georgia. I moved to Greece when I was 21. Greece and Cyprus, to me, are the same. I hope that Greece and Georgia are going to support me. As people, I can tell Cypriots are close to Georgian and Greek people. All of us are warm people and loud. I love loud people."

Malta

Performer: Michela

Song: Chameleon

Eurovision odds: 25/1

Previous wins: 0

The chorus may go 'Chame chameleon', but that's as far as comparisons go with Culture Club's eighties hit.

This catchy pop song performed by 18-year-old Michela is sure to get the crowd going and her memorable voice took the breath away from judges in this year's inaugural Maltese version of X-Factor which she won hands down.

Eurovision bets have clearly been placed on the teenager who was around 50/1 in the first week of March, but her odds have been slashed to around 20/1, so she is in the frame to end Malta's poor run which has seen them fail to qualify for the final in three of the last four years.

Greece

Performer: Katerine Duska

Song: Better Love

Eurovision odds: 30/1

Previous wins: 1 (2005)

It's been 15 years since Greece's sole Eurovision triumph, but Katerina Duska is trying to change that with 'Better Love' which has yet to rack up more than 500,000 views on the Eurovision Song Contest's official YouTube channel.

That should not put anyone off getting on board with the Greek-Canadian singer whose soulful resonant voice is sure to be a hit with judges and TV viewers alike.

Has drawn comparison with Amy Winehouse and covered the Arctic Monkeys' 'Do I wanna know?' so could appeal to the indie kids and pop lovers watching Eurovision.

Portugal

Performer: Conan Osiris

Song: Telemoveis

Eurovision odds: 40/1

Previous wins: 1 (2017)

Portugal produced one of the shocks of the Eurovision Song Contest in 2017 when Salvador Sobral's whimsical 'Amor pelos dois' won the competition for the first time with a runaway 370 points - 79 more than second-placed Moldova.

This year, Conan Osiris, real name Tiago Miranda, is already under the cosh having been implored by Pink Floyd founder Roger Waters in a 'private letter' to boycott the event because of Israel's "war crimes" against Palestinians.

The former sex shop worker had reportedly said he was unsure whether he would attend, but as things stand it's all systems go for a composer whose song Telemoveis, which translates as 'Mobile phones', mixes fado with an Arabic vibe.

Warren Barner
@warren_barner in Entertainment