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Croatia is a complete favorite in ESC fever

Croatia is a complete favorite in ESC fever

Croatia eyes Eurovision Song Contest (ESC): International bookmakers currently see the country's representative Pepe Lasagna as the favorite to win the 68th Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö. While Pepe Lasagna competes in the first semi-final with Reem Team Tag Dim on Tuesday, the focus in his homeland is already on the final on Saturday. For the first time in history, a public presentation of the ESC final will be organized in the capital, Zagreb.

“Zagreb is ready for the Euro song,” the city administration wrote on X, previously Twitter, perhaps as a nod to the high expectations in the Adriatic country. The event will take place on Saturday at Europeplatz. Such events were previously reserved for important matches of the Croatian national football team.

The atmosphere is also somewhat reminiscent of football fever: Pepe Lasagna received a Croatian national team jersey bearing his name and number 1 as a gift from the National Football Association (HNS). “The number was not chosen at random,” HNS stressed on Instagram. Marko Borisic, as Baby Lasagna was called from the stage, also received support from Croatia's biggest football fan, former president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic. She praised him on Instagram: “It is wonderful to see such a friendly, humble and down-to-earth young artist who is proud of his origins and heritage.”

The euphoria in Croatia is said to be great. Even people who don't usually follow the song contest would like to watch the event this time to cheer for baby Lasagna. Meanwhile, true Eurovision fans want to be right on trend: for decor, people are looking for crocheted doilies from grandmothers, mothers and aunts. Forgotten self-made decorative items that used to adorn not only Croatian homes have become popular again thanks to the clothes of Pepe Lasagna and his band, which are a mixture of folklore and modernity. At some private ESC parties, lasagna is also served, in keeping with the name.

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Unlike last year, when rock band Let 3 sparked controversy in the country, Baby Lasagna seems to unite Croatians with his song about leaving their country in search of a better life. The support is shown in a video showing hundreds of people of all ages, including police officers, nurses and firefighters, from five Croatian cities dancing to “Rem Tim Tag Dim.” The video, produced by public broadcaster HTV, received significant attention on TV shows and social media. On Tuesday, a documentary about the 28-year-old musician from the small town of Umag in the Istria region will also be broadcast on HTV.

The story of the hit song also inspired a picture book starring baby Lasagna and his cat Step. The book titled “Great Friendship” tells about support, love and cohesion. The one-eyed orange cat also appears in the official video.

The prospect of a possible win is also raising speculation in Croatia about where the next Economic and Social Council will be held. Arena Zagreb, the country's largest sports and concert hall, is a strong candidate. According to media reports, the operator has already been asked to keep the date free for 2025. The Economic and Social Council has already met in Zagreb once, namely in 1990, when the former Yugoslavia hosted the 35th edition. A year earlier, the Croatian group Riva won the former joint state in Switzerland.