June 30, 2010 01:00 AM

These days, when Germans want to know if their team will win their next match at the World Cup soccer tournament in South Africa, they turn to Paul. The octopus. From his tank at Oberhausen Sea Life aquarium, Paul has correctly predicted the outcome of the four soccer matches Germany has played in – three wins and a loss to Serbia.

Paul’s method: His caretakers at Sea Life put a mussel in each of two clear plastic containers. The boxes are marked with the flags of the soccer teams. Paul’s prediction for victory is whichever container he chooses first.

According to entertainment director Daniel Fey, Paul showed his intelligence early on. “There was something about the way he looked at our visitors when they came close to the tank,” he says. “It was so unusual, so we tried to find out what his special talents were.” Although Paul isn’t much of a soccer player – all those legs get in the way – he does have a knack for predicting games.

Fans were most surprised when Paul, who hatched in England in 2008, refused to allow any latent patriotic sentiments cloud his judgment when he predicted the outcome of Sunday’s Germany vs. England match. Paul quickly chose the box with the German flag indicating, as his spokeswoman Tanja Mnzig explained, “a decisive victory for Germany.”

And so it was, 4:1 for Germany.

On Tuesday morning, as a crowd of photographers surrounded his tank, snapping pictures, Paul made his prediction for Germany’s next match on Saturday against favorite Argentina. According to Paul, Team Argentina might as well start packing their bags now, because Germany will beat them.

Before you place your bets, remember that Paul is good, but not infallible. In the 2008 European Championship soccer tournament, Paul was right almost 70 percent of the time.

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