A bad Champions League opening night for Real Sociedad got even worse post-game when it emerged that midfielder Esteban Granero suffered a serious cruciate ligament injury in the 2-0 home defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk.
Granero was introduced as an 81st-minute substitute with his side already trailing 1-0 to an Alex Teixeira goal, and the Brazilian had got his second for Shakhtar by the time the on-loan QPR midfielder was taken from the pitch on a stretcher in added time.
A club statement released on Wednesday confirmed the news that the txuri-urdin’s medical team had first feared. It said: "The MRI scan done this morning discovered a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament and medial meniscus injury in Granero's right knee. "This injury will require surgical repair.
The player will perform a physical therapy focused on stimulating and maintaining the neuromuscular control of the joint." The injury further dampened the mood around Anoeta, after a game in which the home side had most of the possession and chances, but the visitors were much the more ruthless in front of goal.
Coach Jagoba Arrasate told Canal Plus afterwards that the defeat was hard to take.
"We are left with a very bitter feeling," Arrasate said. "We did everything to get in front, but after the first goal, they were very efficient, although we could have equalised with the shot off the crossbar [from Vela]."
The rookie boss also suggested that his side simply cannot afford to miss chances at this level. "We were not clinical," he said. "We knew this was the biggest competition where, even if you play well, you need good fortune and to be efficient."
With Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen also in their group, qualification already looks a tough order for la Real, but Arrasate said it was early days yet.
"We know that these things could happen in this competition,” he said. “The defeat means qualification is more difficult, but we are giving up on nothing. We will go to Germany to take on Leverkusen with all the motivation in the world."
His players would be looking to bounce back this weekend against Malaga in La Liga, said the Basque coach. "If this dressing room has anything it is that it can get back up on its feet," Arrasate said. "Now we are all a bit down, that is normal, but from tomorrow we will think about Malaga. We know this is an exciting seasons, but also a demanding one."