Napoli went to the Red Bull Arena seeking to win back some pride and a part of their reputation. Once Lorenzo Insigne had added a second goal and they were only behind on away goals, it became clear the Partenopei had done what they set out to do. No need to go overboard by qualifying for the next round.
The most entertaining team in Italy, one that offers masterpieces of scintillating football to compete with the world's best, failed to dazzle against Bundesliga opponents RB Leipzig at the Stadio San Paolo.
Supporters did not show up to the stadium, a number of key players were rested, the best defence in the top flight were stripped of their warriors' spirit and the only goal scored for the Ciucciarelli was by their youngster Adam Ounas in his first ever start for the club.
Things improved massively in the return leg, as goals from Piotr Zielinski and Insigne gave the victory to the away side, but they were not enough to get them through, and for that one man had a huge smile on his face.
President Aurelio De Laurentiis could be the biggest reason behind the club not showing up in the competition, as he previously said during Walter Mazzarri's reign: “The Champions League brings in money, whereas the Europa League costs clubs money. The Europa League should be abolished, as it is of no interest to the media, nor to the fans, seeing as the stadiums are often half-empty."
Apart from the poor broadcast income and the almost empty stadium in the first leg, the prize money Napoli got from facing Leipzig is 12 times less than what they could have earned if they had qualified from the Champions League group stage.
According to the man at the helm Maurizio Sarri, the team cannot fix their heads on anything except Serie A and with the team out of Europa League too, he finds enough time for them to solely train for their main goal.
Napoli were crowned winter champions last January and 10 of the last 11 Campioni d’Inverno went on to win the Scudetto. Who was the only team to miss out? The Partenopei in 2016.
In Sarri's first year acting as the team's Coach, he led Napoli to the top of league and won his Europa League group. Yet it wasn't until February that he realized the quality of his squad when his eight-game winning streak ended, as he suffered for five successive matches dropping points, three of them in the league, and bowing down to Villarreal in Europe.
Former Juventus boss Marcello Lippi said earlier this season that the Europa League games will expose the weary side of Napoli, leading the Bianconeri back on top.
However, it seems Sarri does not make the same mistake twice. The tactician dropped the ball on Europe, as he has set his team's mind on beating the odds to the most prestigious title in Italy.
Serie A is no longer a one-horse race, but Napoli are betting everything on the Scudetto and it’s a very big gamble. If it comes off, they’ll go down in history. If they put all their eggs in this basket and still fail, expect to see this squad dismantled over the summer.