The 2018 Granatkin Memorial Tournament - Observations and Best Players
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SEPTEMBER 13, 2018
The Crop of 2018
The 2018 tournament finished on 9th September, and for the first time ever, the St Petersburg side won the tournament, beating Turkey 3-0 in the final. The third place play-off saw host nation Russia gain revenge over Lithuania with a 2-0 win, having been beaten by the Lithuanians by the same score in the group stage.
The best player awards were as follows:
Best Goalkeeper: Nikolay Rybikov – St Petersburg (Zenit St Petersburg)
Best Defender: Ernestas Mockus – Lithuania (FC Kauno Zalgiris)
Best Midfielder: Nikita Koldunov – St Petersburg (Zenit St Petersburg)
Best Attacker: Gamid Agalarov – Russia (Anzhi)
MVP: Yunus Akgun – Turkey (Galatasaray)
Lithuanian Youth is Looking Strong
Mockus is one of a number of bright Lithuanian talents who excelled at the tournament. A centre-half, the 18-year-old has made his senior breakthrough for his club Kauno Zalgiris this season, making three appearances before the start of the tournament.
Other Lithuanians to have stood out are attacking midfielders Edgaras Utkas and Benas Anisas. Utkus began his career at the same academy as Mockus, the Nacionaline Futbolo Akademija of Lithuania, but in January of 2018, he signed for French side Monaco. Over in France, he is one of the plethora of exciting talent in the academy. He capped his tournament off with a brilliant free kick against Russia in the group stages.
Anisas is a completely different story, playing in the second tier of Lithuanian football for Dziugas. He has been a regular for his team since he was 16 and features for his country at this level for the first time. Like Utkus, Anisas showed all he can in the group stages, scoring a brilliant solo goal vs Armenia and then winning the free kick which Utkus scored v Russia. Over the summer he has trialled with Finnish side TPS, and surely it is just a matter of time until he moves on.