Eurovision favourites Croatia, Ukraine qualify for grand final

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Croatia and Ukraine, two favourites to win Eurovision 2024, were among the first 10 contestants to qualify for the competition's grand final on Saturday, following an initial round of semi-finals in Malmo Arena on Tuesday.

Fans in quirky and glittery outfits waved flags from the participating countries inside the arena, with many dressed up as their favourite contestant or in their national colours.

Croatia's Baby Lasagna (real name Marko Purisic, 28) and Ukrainian duo, alyona alyona 28, and Jerry Heil, 32, are both among the top five favourites, together with Italy, Netherlands and Switzerland to win the music kitsch-fest.

Streaming data from Spotify also suggests a strong chance for host nation Sweden.

Cyprus, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal, Serbia and Slovenia also advanced to Saturday's grand final.

Former Eurovision contestant, Eric Saade, made a guest performance with a black and white keffiyeh scarf wrapped around his wrist.

Eurovision bills itself as a non-political event and organisers have resisted calls to boycott Israel from this year's competition, sparking protest from artists and ministers.

Much focus is expected to be on Israel's Eden Golan and her song Hurricane in the second semi-final on Thursday, with bookmakers placing her among the top 10 to win the competition.

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