Iniesta, Iker take over Paul

Iniesta, Iker take over Paul

Iniesta, Iker take over Paul

With 16 tentacles between them, Iniesta and Iker are in the hunt to take the place of World Cup prognosticator Paul the Octopus.

The pair of tipsters belong to an aquarium in southern Spain, and their first test in the race to become the attraction's official oracle was trying to predict the outcome of tonight's Spanish league match between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Iniesta, named after Barcelona playmaker Andres Iniesta, picked Madrid to win.

The small Mediterranean sea octopus weighing 1.5 kilograms (3.3 pounds) nearly immediately snatched a sardine from a plastic tube featuring Madrid's logo Friday at the Sea Life Aquarium in Benalmadena.

Iker, a 16-kilogram (35-pound) Pacific Ocean octopus named after Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas, appeared to be more enamored by the flashbulbs and the large throng of onlookers as he refused to eat either of the sardines after 15 minutes, signaling a draw.

If neither are correct and Barcelona wins the match at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, then two other octopuses will attempt to predict the outcome of the next match between the rivals, which comes Wednesday in the Copa del Rey final.

Those two are named Pep and Mou, in reference to Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola and Madrid counterpart Jose Mourinho. Other octopuses are waiting for a chance if there is still no winner as the Spanish clubs face each other four times in 18 days, including in two legs of the Champions League semifinals.

"We'll keep going until someone gets it right," Sea Life Aquarium commercial director Maria Morondo said.

The English-born Paul the Octopus died in October at an aquarium in Oberhausen, Germany.

He gained fame by predicting eight World Cup matches correctly, including Germany's run to the semifinals and Spain's victory over the Netherlands in the final.

Paul made his predictions by opening the lid of one of two clear plastic boxes, each containing a mussel and bearing a team flag. He was replaced by a French-born octopus after his death, also named Paul.