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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Why did Germany lose to Spain in the Semis - the prediction of Paul

Vicente del Bosque, Casillas, David Villa, Fernando Torres – all names are oft repeated these days. Have you heard of Paul also ?

Vicente del Bosque is the coach of Spanish team who took over from Luis Aragones after the EURO 2008 triumph, keeping the same footballing philosophy and core of players which dazzled the continent that summer.

The whole of Spain would have erupted with joy as their National side reached the FIFA WC final for the first time ever beating the odds on favourite Germany by a solitary goal. The Spanish will play the Netherlands on Sunday at Soccer City, Johannesburg, in a match which pitches the great underachievers of world football against each other. Neither country has won football's greatest prize before. It was reported that Police had set up barriers around the fountain in the Spanish capital's Plaza Cibeles, where Real Madrid fans traditionally celebrate their victories. Almost all towns and cities throughout the country had installed giant screens for people to watch the match. Significantly Spain had beaten Germany in Euro 2008.

Even before the match Germany’s fate was sealed at Oberhausen, a city on the river Emscher, a tributary of Rhine by a cephalopod, also known as inkfish in fishing industry.  Paul the Octopus is a two-year-old common octopus with a history of correctly predicting the results of major German international football matches especially in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. This total rate of 11 out of 12 games correct constitutes a significant deviation from what flipping a coin would suggest, using a binomial test.

This ungainly looking creature was hatched at the Sea Life Park in Weymouth, England but currently resides at Sea Life Aquarium in Oberhausen, Germany. Before German international football matches, Paul is presented with food in two identical containers; one container is marked with the flag of Germany and the other is marked with the flag of Germany's opponent. In each instance, Paul's choice of food is interpreted as his predicted victor. Paul is reported to have correctly chosen the winner in five of Germany's six UEFA Euro 2008 matches, predicting that Germany would win every match except a loss to Croatia. The one time his prediction went wrong was in Euro 2008 when it was Germany though Spain ended up the victor.

Soccer fans across Germany were praying that the fabled prophetic skills of Paul would fail him, as he predicted a German loss in the Semi final. On Tuesday, Two mussels were placed in separate boxes, one bearing the German flag and the other, the Spanish. The boxes were then dropped into Paul’s tank and he was left to decide which treat to eat first. Paul had settled on both containers at first in a sign of hesitation before opening the box with the Spanish flag. This was broadcast live on several news channels in Germany and immediately doubts were cast on following this prediction and on the capability of Paul.

For the next WC, Germany may not have the dilemma as Octopuses are relatively short lived. Paul might live alone in his tank at Sea Life in Oberhausen for a few more years so do most octopuses around the world. It’s difficult to keep more than one of these solitary creatures in a tank, as they are fiercely territorial. Some will fight to the death to protect the cave they live in from would-be invaders. But none would get the coverage that Paul had got in its life time.

If you still remember the opening para, Iker Casillas is the Captain of Spain who is a fine keeper; Xavi Hernandez is a perfect midfielder; David Villa and Fernando Torres have been impressive as finishers taking Spain this long.

Any predictions for the finals ???

Regards - Sampathkumar


  1. A very well written article, although for me to believe that an octopus predicted the victory of a game is definetly not possible. Anyways thanks for the article, it was still a fun read even though I don't believe it.