Bengaluru, June 14: The FIFA World Cup kick off is just hours away as hosts Russia take on Saudi Arabia in the lung opener at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Thursday (June 14).
Russia and Saudi Arabia have met only once before-- way back in October 1993, a friendly match which the Middle East country won 4-2.
Russia are winless in their last five games at the World Cup while Saudi Arabia have kept only one clean sheet in their 13 games at the World Cup - it was in their 1-0 win against Belgium in June 1994. They have also failed to score in seven of their last nine games in the tournament.
Predictions have become an integral part of the modern-day game and it's not only the television pundits and laymen who are going bonkers over it.
Remember, Paul the Octopus, which which became an instant hit after being purportedly used to predict the results of 2010 FIFA World Cup held in South Africa?
In Brazil 2014, it was 'Big Head' the turtle which hogged the limelight.
And come Russia 2018, 'Achilles' the cat , will do the honours. Infact, the cat is already out of the bag and has already predicted the winner of the opening game. Any wild guess? Yes it's the home side Russia only!
Achilles the cat, Russia 2018's official oracle, has predicted that Russia will beat Saudi Arabia in tomorrow's opening game. 🇷🇺— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 13, 2018
Now time for today's Squawka Suggests. pic.twitter.com/fr1TSUPG00
Achilles, the cat in St Petersburg, is a reputed one and is said to have psychic powers. Offered a choice of two bowls of food, the white feline hesitated before choosing one with the Russian flag, dismissing Saudi Arabia's chances of a win in Moscow on Thursday - a relief to the host nation, considered one of the weakest sides in the tournament despite the home advantage.
Achilles, who lives in St Petersburg's Hermitage museum, is deaf, something his minders say means he will not be easily distracted by onlookers while making his prediction. They did not say whether the sight of the national flags might sway his choice.
The FIFA World Cup to be played across 11 cities and 12 venues in Russia will go on till July 15 and till then Achilles, the cat, will rule the roost at least when it comes to prediction stakes.
(With inputs from Agencies)