No one is happy about Napoli missing out on the Champions League group stage, much less the players. Case in point, squad captain Marek Hamsik, who described this turn of evens as "tragic" to Sky Italia.
"We paid for our carelessness, surrendering those goals hurts," Hamsik said after the match. "We just wanted to go through. We wanted the Champions League, and we'll miss it. Now we have to stand up and move forward."
It'll be interesting to see exactly how the squad itself responds to this setback. There's the potential for the squad to get galvanized, rally around each other, and go forth to kick massive ass. If they can do that, this season might not be a loss. They'll have to play a damn sight better than they did yesterday in order to do that, though.
When asked if he thought Napoli gave up after allowing the second goal to Athletic Bilbao, Marek disagreed with the assertion. "I do not think so, but when we looked at the goals we gave up they were really bad. After that we kept pressing the attack, we had to make better use of those situations."
In fairness, Hamsik scored Napoli's only goal of the day, capitalizing on a miscue by Athletic Bilbao's back line to thunder home a shot that looked like the Marek Hamsik of old. His match as a whole was a little up and down, as was his performance in the first leg last week, but there are signs that things are coming together for him again after a rough spell last year.
Some had speculated that Hamsik would be on his way out earlier this summer, and Hamsik laughed off reporters when he was asked if he regretted staying now that Napoli are out of the Champions League. "No, never. I keep saying that I am fine here, I'll stay until I'm no longer important for the club and its fans."
Hopefully this disappointment serves to kick-start the squad to where they really need to be. Hamsik will be a huge part of that if it happens, and every Napoli fan is aching to see him come back to form. If he does, we'll experience significantly fewer tragedies in the future.