Achilles the cat joins a list of infamous animals with an incredible World Cup ability.
Russia will win the first match of this year’s FIFA World Cup.
That’s according to Achilles, a cat who lives in the basement of St Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum and is touted to have psychic powers.
The 70th ranked host nation play 67th ranked Saudi Arabia in Friday morning’s (0100 AEST) World Cup opener.
In front of journalists in St Petersburg, Achilles was offered a choice of two bowls of food: one with the Russian flag, the other with the Saudi flag.
Achilles ate from the Russian plate.
"I'm sure he made the right prediction, he loves his motherland and couldn't vote any other way," said Hermitage cats vet Anna Kondratiyeva after Achilles had made his choice.
Achilles is deaf; something his minders believe will keep him from being distracted by flags or onlookers while making his prediction.
“He sees with his heart," Anna Kasatkina, another Hermitage cats vet, told AFP.
Achilles forecast a couple of winners during last year’s FIFA Confederations Cup.
He was not so successful in one match involving Australia, predicting the Socceroos would beat Cameroon. The match ended 1-1.
Achilles will move out of the Hermitage basement - where he works with other cats to keep the museum free of rodents - for the duration of the World Cup.
From Paul to Pele
Achilles is not the first “psychic” animal who has foreshadowed World Cup match outcomes.
Germany’s Paul the octopus shot to fame during the 2010 tournament after correctly predicting seven results of his country’s matches.
After Germany lost in the semi-finals to eventual champions Spain, Paul tipped the Spaniards to beat the Netherlands in the final.
It prompted one news agency to report he had spurred a jump in demand for Spanish government bonds.
Paul was soon declared an honorary citizen of Spanish town Galicia, whose main industry is producing seafood.
Paul died a few months after the tournament.
A Swiss guinea pig named Madame Shiva made headlines during the 2014 World Cup, when she prophesised Switzerland would beat Ecuador in the opening game of Group C.
Switzerland won the game 2-1.
Pele the Piranha also managed to correctly predict a few match outcomes during the tournament.
But while some of us might like to believe there is something special about these “clairvoyant” animals, statisticians are ready to bring us back down to earth.
David Hand wrote in his book The Improbability Principle that animals are likely to eventually correctly predict the outcomes of sporting events if asked to do so enough times.