It's tough to proclaim that anyone's Champions League campaign is over after only one game, but when you're in a group that features Manchester United and you suffer a 2-0 defeat at home in the opening match, it might be an fair statement. That's the reality facing Jagoba Arrasate and La Real after their disappointing loss on Tuesday.
It was already going to be a difficult challenge for La Real to escape Group A, but if they had any hopes of pulling off a miracle run, they needed to win at home. Starting off with a loss against Shakhtar not only breaks that rule, they're now in a difficult hole with plenty of tough matches ahead.
It's not over though, nothing is ever over until you're mathematically eliminated, but considering that getting points against United is probably going to be impossible, that leaves only three more matches for La Real to find points and only one of those will be at home.
Still think I'm overreacting? Let's take a look at the schedule ahead for La Real.
The next two matches for Arrasate's team are away trips to Leverkusen on Oct. 2 and Old Trafford on Oct. 23. They'll be lucky to get any points from those matches. November brings a home match against United on the 5th and a difficult trip to the Ukraine (I'll explain why shortly) on the 27th. La Real finishes the group stages on Dec. 10 at home versus Leverkusen.
It's really hard to find any points for La Real from that schedule and that leaves them in an extremely difficult spot.
Meanwhile for Shakhtar Donetsk, things couldn't be much better for Mircea Lucescu's side. With three points in their pocket and all three of their home matches still on the schedule, the Ukrainian side has to be feeling good about their chances of challenging Leverkusen for the other "golden ticket" out of the group.
The Donbass Arena is a difficult place to play for even the best team' in Europe and will be a daunting trip for Real Sociedad and Leverkusen. Last season, in route to the Round of 16, Shakhtar only lost once -- 0-1 against Juventus -- at home in four Champions League matches, including a defeat of Chelsea and a draw against eventual runner-up Borussia Dortmund.
In the 2011-12 Champions League, Donetsk only loss once home and the season before they defeated Arsenal and AS Roma at the Donbass Arena with their only home loss coming in the quarterfinals against Barcelona.
Basically, it's a tough place for anyone to play, let alone win. Combined Donetsk's three points on Tuesday with Leverkusen's defeat against United and they should be feeling pretty good. The Miners already have a four-goal advantage in differential over the Germans and three points to boot, putting them in the driver's seat early.
Lucescu and his staff probably couldn't have draw up a better start as Donetsk seek to advance out of the group stages for the third time in the last four seasons.