September 15th was an exciting day for soccer fans in Europe, as the 2015 2016 UEFA Champions League officially got underway. Tuesday saw the first matches in groups A through D, with many heavyweight teams coming out of the woodwork to play. But what did we learn from Champions League 2015 - 2016 Group A day one, and which teams that won big in their first group stage matches will still be hanging around when we reach the late stages of the knockouts?

Ever since the UCL group stage draw at the end of August, soccer analysts have pointed to Group A as one of the most predictable in the competition. They've had a point: Group A, which features Real Madrid, Paris Saint Germain, Malmo FF, and Shakhtar Donetsk, has a clear divide between heavyweight football clubs (Real Madrid, PSG) and also-rans (Malmo FF, Shakhtar). Unsurprisingly, that divide was on display as group stage play began.

Real Madrid vs. Shakhtar Donetsk 

Real Madrid took the lead in Group A with their first fixture, beating Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk 4-0. The Vikings not only had the home field advantage for the match, but they also had Cristiano Ronaldo firing on all cylinders.

Indeed, Ronaldo scored three of his soccer squad's four goals, staking an early claim as the tournament's top scorer. Last year, the Portuguese great had to settle for a three-way tie in terms of UCL goals, finishing the tournament with 10 goals-the same number as Barca stars Lionel Messi and Neymar. The previous year, though, when Real Madrid won
the Champions League, Ronaldo reached a superlative 17 goals for the tournament. Could he surpass that tally this year? Three goals in the first match is surely a good start.

With Ronaldo playing on such a high level, Shakhtar Donetsk were hopelessly outmatched in their September 15th group stage match. The Ukrainian football club made it to the round of 16 a year ago but did so mostly thanks to the stunning nine-goal performance of striker Luiz Adriano. Adriano scored nine goals in just 628 minutes of play. To put those stats in perspective, Ronaldo played for 1,065 minutes in last year's UCL, and only reached 10 goals. Had Shakhtar Donetsk stuck around for just another round or two, Adriano might have been the tournament's top scorer.

This year, though, Adriano is gone: he transferred to AC Milan over the summer, which means that Shakhtar Donetsk are now contending in a tough Champions League group without their secret weapon. With that fact considered, Shakhtar played better than expected against Real Madrid. They managed to keep possession of the ball for 45% of the match and held the Vikings scoreless for a whole half hour. Even at halftime, Real Madrid were only leading 1-0, thanks to a 30-minute goal from Karim Benzema.

The second half, though, saw all three of Ronaldo's goals and left Shakhtar Donetsk down four points at the end of regulation time. That outcome drops the Ukrainian football club to fourth place in Group A, with a goal difference deficit that will be tough for them to make up.

Paris Saint Germain vs. Malmo FF

PSG's game against Sweden's Malmo FF was not as decisive as Real's win over Shakhtar, but was no less one-sided. The Parisians controlled the match in every way, beating Malmo FF in possession 70-30 and tallying 10 shots on target for Malmo's one.

PSG also scored so early in the game-a four-minute icebreaker from Angel di Maria-that the pressure was always on Malmo FF to catch up. When Edinson Cavani scored a second goal for Paris Saint Germain at the 61-minute mark, there was still a half hour left in the match, but you could clearly see the fight go out of the Malmo offense.

These two matches provide a pretty good glimpse of where Group A is headed. Real Madrid, fueled by an in-top-form Cristiano Ronaldo, will easily win the group while PSG will settle for second place. The other two clubs will battle one another for third, but neither will reach the knockout stages.