Japan provided one of the biggest shocks of the tournament so far after defeating the four-time winners and pre-tournament favorites 2-1 at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar. Goals from Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano in the final 15 minutes of the game saw the Blue Samurai comeback from 1-0 down to secure a famous victory.
Manchester City's Ilkay Gundogan had given Germany a 1-0 lead going in at the break, having converted a penalty given for goalkeeper Shuichi Gondas' foul on David Raum. Germany were ultimately made to pay for missing a series of chances before Japan roared back into the match to secure an unexpected win.
Yet while the victory was something of a shock to many soccer analysts and fans alike, for Taiyo, an eight-year-old male otter who resides at the Maxell Aqua Park Shinagawa in Japan, it was entirely expected.
According to Kyodo News, a day before Japan's game with Germany, Taiyo was tasked to predict the outcome of the game. The otter's handlers had tasked him with putting a miniature soccer ball in one of three buckets.
Taiyo had to choose from either a blue bucket featuring the Japanese flag, a red one with the German flag or a yellow one labeled simply "draw." The semi-aquatic animal confidently plumped for Japan, much to the surprise of those witnessing his efforts.
A few days on, though, and Taiyo is being held up as either some kind of animal clairvoyant or an otter with an innate understanding of soccer that puts most television analysts to shame. This isn't the first time an animal has hit the headlines thanks to an ability to predict the outcome of major sporting events.
Perhaps the most obvious example came with Paul the Octopus, who hit the headlines after correctly predicting the outcome of a string of World Cup soccer matches involving the German national team.
His most famous run of success came at the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa where Paul correctly tipped the winner in an astonishing eight consecutive games. This run included predicting Spain would triumph over the Netherlands in that year's final. Paul has since passed away, aged two.
While several animals have attempted to ape his success in the years that have followed, few have been able to match his efforts.
Another octopus called Rabio came closest after correctly guessing the result in all three of Japan's games at the 2018 World Cup. Unfortunately, Rabio was subsequently killed and sent to market before he could extend his winning run of predictions
Taiyo need not worry about suffering a similar fate, of course, but while all eyes will be on the otter oracle ahead of Japan's next game against Costa Rica, according to Yahoo Japan, Maxell Aqua Park Shinagawa have no plans for him to pick a winner.
Newsweek has contacted Maxell Aqua Park Shinagawa for comment.