Well, this is all getting rather uncanny - I correctly predicted all ten qualifiers from the second semi-final, after getting the first one mostly right as well. I'm bound to come a cropper at the final hurdle, but here goes anyway.
The majority of hot favourites at the Eurovision end up winning, but some narrowly fall short, and a significant minority end up on the bottom half of the scoreboard (as happened to France in 2011, for example). I don't think the latter fate will befall the Russian song this year, but I do think it's a relatively weak favourite by recent standards. For all the similarities to the winner from twelve months ago, it's formulaic and derivative where its predecessor was fresh and creative. I find it hard to believe that the juries will place it top, so the big question is whether it'll at least be in the game at the end of jury voting. If it's in the top three at that point, there must be a very good chance that the pro-Russian bloc in the televoting will push it to victory. In fact, here's a betting tip, if you're that way inclined - if by any chance the juries do have Russia in first place, pretty much any in-play odds on Russia to win would be worth taking, because it'll be about as close to free money as you'll ever get.
However, I have a sneaking suspicion that Russia may take a real pounding with the juries, in which case the song favoured by the juries would probably only need to finish second in the televoting to be guaranteed of victory. The snag is, though, that jury voting is much harder to read in advance than televoting, and so it's hard to know for sure which song is most likely to emerge from the pack. All I can say is that my own view after watching the semi-finals (and also some of the rehearsal footage) is that Australia have the strongest song in the contest, and they definitely have the finest singer. So logically I have to conclude that the juries would be most likely to plump for Australia, a song which I also think could do reasonably well in the televoting. Without an enormous amount of conviction, then, I'm predicting an Australian victory.
One obvious problem with trying to work out whether the conventional wisdom overestimates or underestimates a song's chances is that personal taste can interfere with the radar. In this case, my instinct is that France, Ukraine and Sweden have been overestimated and that Belgium, Malta and Bulgaria have been slightly underestimated. But I watched the whole of the Melodifestivalen final and was baffled by the winner, so it could be that I'm missing something about the Swedish song that most other people can see. Perhaps I'll be surprised again, but I'm going to stick with my gut feeling and say that it'll be outside the top five. I'm more confident in predicting that France will fall short of expectations - I like the song a lot, but I just don't see anything at all in it that will make it stand out. It's the sort of entry that has finished a routine fifteenth in previous contests, so I'm not quite sure what all the fuss has been about.
My initial feeling after Thursday's semi was that Belgium might be headed for the top three, but their hopes have taken a slight hit after being placed right at the start of the running-order. But first is better than second, and it's so different from everything that'll come afterwards that people will probably still remember it by the end of the show. Conversely, the Maltese song won't stand out as much, but it's extremely well performed and has an enviable draw. I expect Bulgaria to be in the mix because the juries will probably recognise its quality - I'm not so sure how it will fare with the public, though.
So this is my best guess as to how it will shake out -
Winners : Australia (Sound of Silence - Dami Im)
2nd : Russia (You Are the Only One - Sergey Lazarev)
3rd : Malta (Walk on Water - Ira Losco)
4th : Belgium (What's the Pressure - Laura Tesoro)
5th : Bulgaria (If Love Was a Crime - Poli Genova)
Possible dark horses : Israel, Netherlands, Italy
If Australia do win, in one sense it'll be great for the contest, because musical quality will have unexpectedly won out over the do-it-by-numbers approach. But in another sense it'll be a bad outcome, because it'll draw attention to the fact that the contest's status as a European event has been hopelessly undermined over the last couple of years. I haven't bothered to check this year's rules in relation to Australia, but I presume it's still the case that if they win, they won't be allowed to host the contest next year, and will instead have to pick a European country to 'partner' with. That may be the UK's only hope of hosting the Eurovision in the foreseeable future, although I have a feeling Australia might want to avoid any impression of mutual Anglo-Saxon back-scratching, and would go for a more left-field choice instead.
By the way, I'll be voting for Austria. The decision has been made for me. I have a personal rule that I only vote for songs performed entirely in a language other in English, and Austria is literally the only one left!