BERLIN - Germany was in a state of
shock on Tuesday after their "oracle octopus" Paul picked Spain
to win the World Cup semi-final match against Germany in South
Africa on Wednesday.
Not an ordinarily superstitious people, Germans have become
believers in Paul's possible psychic powers.
NEWS: Octopus picks Spain to win
"This is not a good omen," wrote Bild newspaper's online
edition after the news of Paul's pick flashed across Germany.
The octopus has turned into an international celebrity after
accurately picking the winner of all five German World Cup
matches to date - including their 1-0 loss to Serbia.
Two national networks interrupted their programming on
Tuesday for live coverage of Paul's latest forecast, and groans
of disappointment rang out across Germany after Paul went for a
container with a morsel of food in it bearing the Spanish flag.
"We were all a little bit shocked when Paul picked Spain,"
said Tanja Munzig, a spokeswoman for Sea Life in Oberhausen. "To
err is not only human - animals can also make mistakes. Let's
hope Paul got this one wrong."
The octopus, considered by some to be the most intelligent
of all invertebrates, was again given the choice of picking food
from two different transparent containers lowered into his tank
- one with a German flag on it and one with a Spanish.
The container Paul opens first is regarded as his pick for
the match. Paul first put his tentacles around the German
container before moving to his left to the Spanish box - first
opening the lid and then snatching the morsel of food inside.
Germans stunned by Paul's decision to pick Spain took
consolation in the fact that Paul got one of his five picks
wrong at the Euro in 2008. Oddly enough it also involved Spain:
In the final Paul picked Germany over Spain. But Spain won 1-0.
It was Paul's only inaccurate pick of that tournament. He
has never been wrong since and has an overall record of 9-1.
"Maybe Paul was just trying to give Spain a false sense of
security," said Munzig, who said scores of journalists were at
Sea Life to witness Paul's latest pick. Thousands of people have
visited Sea Life to see Germany's newest celebrity.
"To be honest I'm going to have butterflies in my stomach
watching the Spain match," she added. "I'm not a superstitious
person but he's had an incredible winning streak so far."
Paul was born in England. He has been five for five at the
World Cup. He picked Germany wins over Australia, Ghana, England
and Argentina - as well as their Group D loss to Serbia.
Media attention over Paul's picks in Germany and abroad has
grown with each pick and some commentators have even wondered
aloud whether his uncanny run might even be having an influence
on superstitious players.
Paul's winning streak may have contributed to a growing
superstition among the Germany team.
Germany coach Joachim Low admitted he will not wash a
favourite blue sweater as long as his team keeps winning. Low
said he bowed to pressure from other coaching staff and players
to keep wearing the sweater for their matches.
Every time Low wore the blue V-neck sweater Germany scored
four goals. "I am not even allowed to wash it now and I think I
will wear it again (against Spain)," Low said on Monday.
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