MUNICH -- As the second round begins, Mully's Missives looks back at the World Cup so far and dishes out some awards.

Best fans: The English. Fantastic to see hundreds of England fans at the fan fest in Nuremberg dancing along to the German equivalent of "Three Lions" -- "54, 74, 90, 2006" by Sportfreunde Stiller.

Best fan: Diego Maradona. The slimmed down legend has been going crazy in the stands while watching his beloved Argentina. You have to wonder whether his heart is going to hold out from all the excitement, especially the way the Argentines are playing.

Worst fans: The Japanese "fairweather fans" supporting Brazil when the two sides played. Boo, hiss!

Best heckles from fans: "Stick the ball away, you're crap."

"You're as useless as you've always been, Yanagisawa." -- Japanese fans lay into the players during practice at a Japan training session after the 0-0 draw with Croatia, the match in which Kashima Antlers forward Atsushi Yanagisawa failed to score when presented with an open goal three meters out. The miss of the tournament so far.

Best German punditry: "Rudi Voeller would have scored that with his leg in plaster." -- Ex-German international and J. Leaguer Pierre Littbarski talking about Yanagisawa's miss on German television.

Best matches (as seen by Mully): Italy vs. United States in Kaiserslautern (1-1) -- Goals, cultured skills, plucky resilience, violent elbows, red cards, a near upset, end-to-end action, screaming fans, finger wagging, U.S. coach Bruce Arena going crazy on the touchline -- this had it all.

Brazil vs. Japan in Dortmund (4-1) -- The first time to see Brazil live is a special treat. Players like Robinho and Ronaldinho glide around the pitch with an effortless elegance that is difficult to see on television. Japan did well to keep it to four goals. The Brazilians gave the impression that they were cruising in third gear, but that the fourth and fifth gears were there if needed.

Worst matches (as seen by Mully):
England vs. Paraguay (1-0) -- Turgid fare for nearly the whole match after the early goal. One England fan nearby the press area was asleep for almost the entire second half, although admittedly he looked as though he'd had more than a couple pre-match drinks.

England vs. Trinidad and Tobago (2-0) -- Mind numbing. Eighty minutes of England launching long balls toward the head of beanpole striker Peter Crouch. It was tough going for the fans, so who knows what Michael Owen was thinking as the game passed him by.

Worst play-acting: U.S. vs. Ghana (1-2) -- The Africans wasted a lot of the second half by rolling around theatrically any time they were tackled. Frustrating for the U.S. and also for the fans.

Best goal: Esteban Cambiasso's against Serbia and Montenegro in Argentina's 6-0 win. The Argentines strung 21 passes together before the ball went to Juan Roman Riquelme to Javier Saviola to Cambiasso and then to Hernan Crespo, who back heeled a return pass to Cambiasso, and the Inter Milan midfielder made no mistake.

Best player: Japan has to win something, so this goes to 'keeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi, easily Japan's best player despite conceding seven goals. It would have been a whole lot worse for Zico's men had the man nicknamed "Dracula" (because of his fear of crosses) not been in such inspired form. Made the save of the tournament from Juninho Pernambucano of Brazil, flying through the air to deflect a blockbuster destined for the top corner amid numerous other amazing stops.

Most deluded player: "As I left the team hotel in Germany yesterday to fly home, I told (coach) Sven Goran Eriksson that I would be back out for the World Cup final. My tournament might be over, but I still want that medal around my neck." -- Sounds like the England doctor has upped injured striker Michael Owen's morphine intake to dangerous levels.

Biggest disappointment: Apart from Japan's sorry departure at the end of the first round, perhaps the form of the two best players in the world, Ronaldinho and Thierry Henry. Ronaldinho has been content to keep it simple for Brazil and hasn't made many trademark jinking runs, while France's Henry still hasn't found a way to jell with Zinedine Zidane. Maybe they are saving themselves.

Most outrageous quote from a coach: "It depends on who the woman is. A little bit is OK." -- It's all about quality and not quantity for Ecuador coach Luis Fernando Suarez when it comes to the contentious subject of pre-match nookie for players.

Biggest surprise: Ghana. The powerful midfield pairing of Chelsea's Michael Essien and Fenerbahce's Stephen Appiah steamrollered the Czechs and the U.S. to go through to the next round with the Italians in one of the "Groups of Death."

Most hapless referee:
England's Graham Poll, during Croatia's 2-2 draw with Australia. He booked Croatian player Josip Simunic three time before sending him off, missed two clear penalty offenses and allowed Harry Kewell's last-minute equalizer that looked offside to count.

Poll, one of the favorites to ref the final, is tipped to be on his way back to England, banned from officiating another game at this World Cup.

Best thing smuggled into a stadium: Security is watertight at the stadium entrances -- literally. Fans and media cannot take bottled water to the seats as the bottles could be used as potential weapons. Every person is frisked, and bags are scanned and searched.

Which makes it even more impressive that a Croatian fan smuggled six flares into the game against Australia, letting them off when his team scored. Not as impressive, though, as the French fan who smuggled a live cockerel into the stands for the game against South Korea.