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Napoli left to focus on Scudetto race after Europa League exit in Leipzig

Napoli´s players react at the end of the UEFA Europa League football match between SSC Napoli and RB Leipzig, on February 22, 2018 in Leipzig. Napoli won 2-0. / AFP PHOTO / ROBERT MICHAEL

ROBERT MICHAEL / AFP / Getty

Napoli is competing on one front for the remainder of this season, and it’s for the prize it covets more than any other: the Scudetto.

The Italian club’s sole focus is on Serie A’s summit after being eliminated from the Europa League round of 32 by RB Leipzig on Thursday. Napoli won 2-0 in Saxony, but was outdone on away goals due to Leipzig’s 3-1 victory in the previous leg.

Flowing Napoli moves either side of the half were finished off by Piotr Zielinski and Lorenzo Insigne, respectively, but the visitor’s late push didn’t result in a remarkable turnaround.

However, Neapolitans dreaming of Europa League glory were a rare breed. Procuring the club’s first Scudetto since 1990 – the penultimate season of Diego Maradona’s Italian stint – is the clear priority, and there are now no distractions aside from the 13 matches remaining in the 2017-18 league campaign. Second-placed Juventus, meanwhile, is still dealing with Champions League and Coppa Italia assignments.

For RB Leipzig, the Europa League is its final chance of silverware this term. Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side sits fifth in the Bundesliga, 21 points behind runaway leader Bayern Munich, and was denied a shot at a DFB-Pokal title back in October.

The draw for the Europa League round of 16 will be conducted in Nyon, Switzerland on Friday.

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