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Napoli Players In The World Cup

Now that the World Cup groups have been drawn, it's time to look at how Napoli's internationals might fare.

Do lots of this next summer, Gonzalo.
Do lots of this next summer, Gonzalo.
Claudio Villa

We've already previewed Italy's draw in the World Cup next summer, and now we look at the Napoli players who will be doing their level best to be involved. Playing in the World Cup is considered to be one of the highest honors in the game, and all of these players will be doing their utmost to earn or cement roles in their country's squads.

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Group D (Uruguay, England, Costa Rica)
Christian Maggio has typically been Cesar Prandelli's starting right back, and even when not starting has been part of the squad when healthy. However, with Maggio's inconsistent form this season and the rise of players such as AC Milan's Mattia De Sciglio means that Maggio will have to be on top of his game the rest of the season to maintain his place in the national team squad.

Lorenzo Insigne is currently on the fringes of the national team picture, but has largely impressed during his four senior squad caps that he's been handed. If he can impress with Napoli for the rest of the season, it'd be easy to see him earning a role as an impact player on Prandelli's bench at the very least.

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Group E (France, Ecuador, Honduras)
The current senior Swiss midfield is totally within Napoli's control, with Gökhan Inler, Valon Behrami, and Blerim Dzemaili all calling Naples home. Inler is the Swiss captain, and is the key cog that keeps the squad ticking over. Barring injury, he's in.

Dzemaili and Behrami are also both near-locks to head to Brazil, though with some interesting and exciting young midfielders, one or both could be a victim of a numbers game if their form slips between now and the end of the season. Still, both have been regular members of the Swiss setup for several years, and will have a lot of rope to work with before they're truly in any danger.

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Group B (The Neatherlands, Chile, Australia)
Napoli has two potential members of the Spanish national team that will be defending their 2010 World Cup victory, but it's easily possible that neither of them will see the field. Pepe Reina (who may not even be Napoli property by then except by the technicality that his loan expires on June 30th) has typically been Spain's third-choice keeper behind Victor Valdes and Iker Casillas when the two venerable keepers are healthy. However, with Valdes oft-injured and Casillas no longer a regular starter, there is a chance that Reina could snipe the #1 shirt in the Spain setup, albeit a very small one.

Raul Albiol has been an on-again-off-again member of the Spain senior squad, though he does have 42 caps to his name. He made only two appearances for Spain during their qualification process, which would seem to put him firmly on the fringes. However, he did appear in a recent friendly, and with Carles Puyol injured as often as he's been in recent years, there could be an opening for Albiol on the bench.

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Group F (Nigeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Iran)
Gonzalo Higuain regularly features in Argentina's attack force, and should be a lock to feature in Brazil, so let's just move right along. Ferderico Fernandez has been a frequent face in the heart of Argentina's defense despite his inconsistent form and appearances for Napoli. His position is far from guaranteed, though, considering that the likes of Nicolas Otamendi, Ezequiel Garay, and Facundo Roncaglia around, but Alejandro Sabella seems to like the young defender, so I would be surprised if he doesn't at least get a bench role next summer.

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Group C (Ivory Coast, Japan, Greece)
Juan Camilo Zuniga is a rock in the Colombia lineup, generally featuring at right back, with Pablo Armero a frequent starter across from him on the left. You have to wonder if Armero's abhorrent form for Napoli has put his status at risk, though there really isn't another option for Colombia on his flank, barring a breakout for Santiago Arias allowing for Jose Nestor Pekerman to swap Zuniga over to the left.

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Group H (Russia, South Korea, Algeria)
Dries Mertens was once a Belgium regular, but the emergence of several strong talents in the attacking midfield have lessened his role dramatically. In the last year, he's featured for Marc Wilmots' side just four times, though he has sat the bench when he hasn't been on the field. Like Insigne for Italy, an impact sub role seems the most likely for Mertens, though given the strength of Belgium in that area, he's far from guaranteed that spot right now.

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As you can see from the groups listed, no Napoli players are slated to face each other in the group stages, so we'd have to wait until the elimination rounds for any head-to-head matchups. There will be lots of Napoli-related action to watch, though, with team representatives in six of the eight groups, and all on teams favored to advance to at least the round of sixteen and beyond.