In Game of Thrones, the TV series full of death and dragons, the number seven has a highly sacred meaning in ‘The Faith of the Seven’, the gods that rule over the seven kingdoms. In the Madrid derby, the rule of the No.7s could be just as key.
Just like the characters roaming the lands of Westeros and beyond, their true belief in the power of the Seven wanes from time to time and such worriment is taking over in the Spanish capital regarding the strength of Antoine Griezmann and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Even Diego Simeone’s trust of his star forward is drifting given that Griezmann was taken off against both Leganes and Deportivo La Coruna with the scores tied.
Not since September has the Frenchman scored, from the penalty spot against Chelsea in the Champions League, with a run of 645 goalless minutes his worst since joining Atletico Madrid. Not since September 23 has he scored in LaLiga as Los Colchoneros beat Sevilla at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano.
“We don’t have a player who wins us games,” admitted coach Simeone on Friday with Griezmann no longer irreplaceable, a position that probably still protects Ronaldo at Real Madrid.
No one can match the 21 goals the winger has scored past Atleti in 29 derbies, however only once has he bagged a strike in domestic competition this season, a surprisingly dire run not unfamiliar to his opposite number.
It’s expected that Zinedine Zidane and Simeone’s faith will remain with the No. 7s for at least the starting line-ups on Saturday night, but the forwards’ godly powers must be displayed on the pitch to quash the shouts of the non-believers waiting for their former idols to fall.