In sports, high-pressure moments define and alter careers and entire clubs forever, so how do two of the most famous nations in the soccer world bounce back from historic losses in one of the most watched tournaments ever?
For the Brits, the devastating penalties loss to Italy in the final was about as backbreaking as it gets in sports. Bukayo Saka, a 19-year-old kid, was burdened with the hopes and dreams of an entire nation but couldn’t keep England alive in the shootout, which caused him to take a break from social media.
Meanwhile, England’s superstar scorer Harry Kane faces the possibility of playing for Tottenham for another year when he clearly wants out from the club. He will more than likely play for England when the World Cup rolls around, but could it be a needless distraction for a club that hung its hat on unity?
On top of Kane, manager Gareth Southgate is on the fence about coaching the team in Qatar at the time of this writing.
With all of this, does that mean England is doomed to disappoint in Qatar? Not at all.
Despite all of these factors, this experience will stick with these players forever and can help bind this team even more.
England still has plenty of youth with Kane (27), Raheem Sterling (26), Marcus Rashford (23) and Saka (19) all under the age of 30. Sterling ripped off three goals and one assist in seven starts, solidifying that he can be a great pairing with Kane.
For Saka, he flashed glimpses of a great midfielder of the future in his inaugural campaign on one of the brightest stages in all of football.
The biggest X-factor to England’s success will be Southgate’s approach. Will he remain the cerebral, calculated boss or will he become more aggressive to unleash his young attackers?
After losing in penalties, it’s hard to believe The Three Lions can make a run if Southgate tries to rinse and repeat, but a more free flowing offense will unlock this offense, which they will need in Qatar.
Now that the American countries, such as Lionel Messi and Argentina, Neymar and Brazil, and Pulisic and the U.S., will be in the fold, England will need answers for when the defense struggles. Will Southgate and co. turn to Kane? Sterling? Maybe the young Saka?
It’s impossible to know who will get the opportunity to redeem this club in 18 months, but don’t be surprised if England bounces back and rewrites history come 2022.