1. ITV Report

Top tipster Achilles the Cat ready to predict World Cup match winners

A Russian cat is ready to take over from Paul the Octopus as the globally trusted source of World Cup match predictions - but is facing competition.

Since 2010, when Paul correctly predicted Spain would lift the trophy and got right the winner in eight out of eight matches, we've been without a trusted animal tipster.

But Achilles the Cat, a mouse hunter at the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg could fill the void.

Guinea pigs, elephants, pandas, camels and even a pig have all attempted to take over from Paul, but most fell at the first hurdle.

Achilles, however, is different. He has experience, correctly predicting every match at the 2017 Confederations Cup.

When he isn't predicting football matches Achilles is a mouse-hunter at the Hermitage Museum Credit: AP

Achilles now has the World Cup job and made his first prediction for the opening match between Russia and Saudi Arabia, in front of journalists.

He was presented two plates with cat food, each marked with a national flag of one of the competing countries.

After some hesitation Achilles went for the Russia 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.

A room full of journalists watched as Achilles made his first prediction. Credit: AP

Yet in Saudi Arabia another animal believes it can take over from Paul the Octopus.

Spartak the lemur picked its home team to be victorious over Russia at a separate ritual at Yekaterinburg Zoo.

There's also an English animal vying for Paul's job but unfortunately for Three Lions fans Mystic Marcus the Pig isn't expecting Gareth Southgate's men to go far.

Marcus, who successfully predicted that Germany would win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, thinks Belgium, Argentina, Nigeria and Uruguay will reach the semi-finals.

The historic moment Paul correctly predicted Spain would win the 2010 World Cup. Credit: PA

It's unlikely any of these contenders will ever be as successful as Paul, Germany's oracle octopus, who gained international recognition as a trusted tipster when he correctly predicted Spain as winners in 2010.

Time and time again, when staff at Sea Life centre in Oberhausen presented him with two boxes each containing a mussel and bearing opposing flags, he picked the winner.

Unfortunately for football fans and gamblers alike, he died the same year and a memorial was created at the aquarium in his memory.

Octopuses typically only live for around two years, so his death at two-and-a-half years did not come as a surprise.

Employees of the 'Sea Life Oberhausen' unveil the memorial of the football oracle 'Octopus Paul' in Oberhausen, Germany. Credit: PA

Unlike Paul, whose role at his aquarium was to be on display, after the World Cup Achilles has a job to go back to.

Since the 18th century the Hermitage Museum has used cats to keep down the mouse population.

After getting the World Cup winner correct in 2010, Paul was sought after around the world for his predictions.

But with the offer of a guaranteed feed for each prediction, Achilles may be hoping he can do the same and avoid going back to the day job.