Ironically, the two countries, which have been at the top of the bookmakers for weeks, met in the first semi-final of this year's Eurovision Song Contest (ESC). So it was basically just a question of who the other eight would be who would make it to Saturday's final. The betting odds have never been so wrong that two favorites could have failed: Loreen, who had already won the final in Baku in 2012 with "Euphoria", one of the most commercially successful ESC songs ever, made it just like the Finn Käärijä, whose real name is Jere Pöyhönen.

Peter-Philipp Schmitt

Editor in the "Germany and the World" department.

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His "Cha Cha Cha" is a highly efficient Ballermann number that comes across as rough, but still makes the Liverpool Arena go wild every time. The neon green flamenco jacket, which consists only of sleeves, plus the black pants with the protruding prongs and his dance steps, which are somewhat reminiscent of a gorilla, but also of an excavator extending his arms - the 29-year-old rapper from Vantaa in Finland is already a cult. His motto in life: "If it's crazy, it's a party".

The Swede knows exactly what she wants

Loreen, on the other hand, simply plays and sings in a league of her own. The 39-year-old Swede of Berber-Moroccan origin knows exactly what she wants. The producers of the ESC shows also had to experience this, who first wanted to talk her out of lying down under a – supposedly – 1.8-ton screen in Liverpool, as she had done at the preliminary round, the Melodifestivalen in her home country. But in Loreen's world, the phrase "You can't" does not exist, as she only briefly put on record.

So she lies on the big ESC stage as if wedged between two screens, which illuminate her from below and above and then gradually give Loreen the space she needs to complete her bizarre dance moves. The whole thing is coherent and somehow fits their song "Tattoo", the most powerful pop ballad of the entire ESC year. And the fact that she is not only a terrific performer, but can also sing magnificently, has been widely known since 2012.

Behind the two favorites, a wide field of possibilities opened up. None of the remaining 13 stood out so clearly that he or she could be sure. Rather the other way around: Azerbaijan deservedly flew out. The fuzzy twins Tural and Turan Baghmanov, who call themselves TuralTuranX as a duo, offered a deadly boring flower power strumming number ("Tell Me More"), which was not convincing either in black and white, nor in color. Malta's trio The Busker wanted too much with "Dance (Our Own Party)". The three former street musicians hopped from one stage set to the next, trying to tell a story about how nerds become cool disco boys. The spectators, however, fell by the wayside.

A performance can hardly be more oblique

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening: The Monty Python troupe from Croatia is in the final. A performance can hardly be more weird in which the gentlemen end up in their underwear. Her song "Mama ŠČ!" is full of allusions. It is not just about a mother who buys a tractor, but about dictators like Vladimir Putin, who behaves like a child and starts a war. His ally, the Belarusian ruler Alexandr Lukashenko, is also mentioned between the lines, as he had given Putin a tractor for his 70th birthday. In any case, it is a great success for Croatia: since 2010, the country has only made it to the final twice.