We now know that England will face their old foe, Germany, in the last-16 next Tuesday at 5pm. Redemption for Southgate 1996?
It comes as England players are warned by public health experts to stop throwing their shirts into the crowds because of the potential Covid-19 risk to fans.
Raheem Sterling, Luke Shaw and Jack Grealish were all pictured handing over match shirts after Tuesday’s victory against the Czech Republic at Wembley.
While the gesture was warmly welcomed by the crowd, Prof John Ashton, the former director of public health for the North West, said he was concerned by the prospect of sweaty shirts carrying residues of breath.
“We have to remember that the important thing is that they’ve just played 90 minutes of football and they will be panting and exhaling,” Prof Ashton said. “If he’s carrying the virus, he’s likely to be spreading it. I think by now, the players ought to know what they should and shouldn’t be doing.”
England players and staff had been careful to observe protocols at a match which took place just hours after Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell had gone into isolation.
With the incident fresh in their minds, Declan Rice was handed a face mask as he spoke to Czech Republic players after the game – even though the conversation took place outside.
Mount and Chilwell were ruled out until Tuesday morning after consultation between the Football Association and Public Health England concluded they had been “close contacts” of Billy Gilmore, who tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday.
Following Gareth Southgate expressing dismay over the “bizarre” orders for the England pair, the FA was understood to be seeking Premier League advice about allowing the pair to train with the squad in some socially distanced, outdoor circumstances. As it stands, the pair are said to be “following individual training programmes elsewhere on site”.
Video cameras in the Wembley tunnel on Friday are understood to have captured Mount and Chilwell spending between 15 and 20 minutes unchecked talking face to face with Gilmour while Southgate did his media rounds.
The situation facing Mount and Chilwell has prompted criticism of the Government’s 10-day self-isolation rules for those who have come into significant contact with a potential Covid sufferer.
However, Prof Robert Dingwall, a public health specialist at Nottingham Trent’s School of Social Sciences, suggested football would struggle to justify involvement in the same daily-testing trials that allowed Michael Gove to continue working after he was alerted by the NHS app following a trip to the Champions League final.
He added that anger over images showing Scotland players embrace Gilmore after the goalless draw with England on Friday was a red herring.
“Generally, the message would be that there is near-zero risk of transmission outdoors, especially with brief and transient encounters,” the scientist said.