Winner of World Cup opener picked by a cat

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Who remembers ‘Paul the Octopus’?

Paul the Oracle-topus came of prominence during the 2008 UEFA Euros. In the lead-up to Germany’s international football matches, Paul was presented with two clear plastic boxes, each containing food: a mussel or an oyster. Each container was marked with the flag of a team, one of Germany, and the other the of Germany’s opponent. The box which Paul opened first (and ate its contents) was deemed to be the predicted winner.

But it was 2010 when Paul really rose to stardom predicting a series of winners. Paul correctly predicted the outcome of the semi-final, by choosing the food in the box marked with the Spanish flag. German supporters drew hope from his incorrect choice for the Germany versus Spain match in the 2008 UEFA Euro but were disappointed. The prediction led to German fans calling for Paul to be eaten. In response, the Spanish Prime Minister offered to send Paul official state protection, and the Industry Minister called for Paul to be given safe haven in Spain.

 

 

Well as the 2018 World Cup begins today it seems we have a protege to Paul… Achilles (cue back-heel football jokes), a deaf white cat who is the official animal soothsayer for the tournament.

On Wednesday Achilles chose a bowl of food bearing the host’s flag rather than that of Saudi Arabia, who Russia face on Thursday evening.

 

 

Achilles hails from St Petersburg where, along with many other cats, he guards the city’s Hermitage Museum from rodents.

Russia’s football team has failed to win a single game in the last eight months so maybe Achilles is the answer to their prayers.

The tournament starts this evening with the hosts taking on Saudi Arabia at 10p (Thai time).

No prediction of the score, of course. But, Russia by a whisker!

 

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