Alberto and the Striped Hearts Apparel: the story with a good cause behind it

At www.eurofantasyleague.com (EFL) we put emphasis on not only providing professional, prompt and quality customer service, but also trying to spread word, promote and contribute to beneficial projects to society. One such good cause has been initiated by Alberto who can be reached @AllJuveCast and who has previously discussed in brief some of his project’s key themes with Rami Soufi. Previously, Alberto participated in an engaging and interesting Q&A back in April which you can check out here.

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The cause is linked to Italian giants Juventus and is the fruit of Alberto’s love, labor and ideas. While this may sound like a straightforward purchase of shirts having various Bianconeri legends on them, the reality says otherwise. It is a much more involved process with Alberto involving Juve supporters in picking which designs go to production and become the beloved shirts now being proudly worn by many Juventini.

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The biggest positive though is the greater good behind this project. Not only does Alberto show his love and support for his favorite club by creating and promoting designs displaying legends of the Bianconeri but he also donates the proceeds to charities of his choosing.

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Again, we cannot speak high enough about Alberto’s objective and efforts. Simply visit Striped Hearts Apparel and contact him to pick the designs you like. For a moment, this appears as if it works almost exclusively for Juve fans yet maybe some of the Azzurri fans would like to see their heroes such as Gianluigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo as well as some of the other legends who represented both Juve and Italy.

A big salute to Alberto! We encourage similar projects with a good cause and a positive framework. Keep going Alberto because those with the right attitude and noble objectives will most likely end up with the desired outcome. Forza Alberto!

Alberto returns to talk about his latest project born out of his love for Juventus

There is no doubt Alberto is a massive Juventus fan yet that is not what makes him a popular and well-loved person. It was a pleasure to have him in a two-part Q&A back in April 2020. In fact, just over a month ago Alberto discussed in an initial Q&A Juve legends from Roberto Baggio to Alessandro Del Piero and Gianluigi Buffon.

Alberto is also involved heavily on Twitter and social media in general. You can follow him on his Twitter handle @AllJuveCast. He not only focuses on promoting Juve and sharing his stories as well as trying to give a voice to other Bianconeri fans but he also has great giveaways including historic Juve kits from his tremendous collection.

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In recent times, Alberto has taken his love for the Bianconeri a few steps further and mixed that passion for the club with his thoughtfulness and generosity. Alberto has helped design a plethora of shirts- obviously with a strong Bianconeri theme. When asked about his newest project, Alberto happily took time from his busy schedule to briefly discuss @Striped_Hearts and what the project stands for.

Even the designs which finally make it to the production phase are chosen carefully and are made available to the public- well, Juve fans to be specific- after a nod of approval from the Juve faithful. In Alberto’s own words: “the designs are voted for by Juve fans worldwide and only the most popular ones are then taken to production.”

This highlights what kind of person Alberto is. He is not only loyal to the club and a very ardent supporter, but he is also heavily involved in spreading word and sharing fabulous stories about the Bianconeri. However, as great as Alberto’s work has been to give a vote to the Juve supporters who at times feel disengaged or left out, his finest work is the fact this project is also a for a good cause on top of being a labor of love.

Alberto mentions that: “Proceeds of all sales go to a rotating carousel of charities I support as well,” and this in itself highlights his giving nature and his willingness not only to give the time and effort to further promote Juve and other club-related aspects but also a strong desire to help in every possible way. Politicians carry an agenda, Alberto carries the Bianconeri colors in his heart but also seeks to do good in the name of the club he loves.

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Fan Zone: Gregory on Nedved, Buffon, Dybala & more Juve talk

Gregory Caltabanis is an established writer and reporter who covers extensively European football, but what matters for the purposes of this Q&A is Gregory’s unfaltering allegiance to Italian giants Juventus.

Gregory is part of the @FantaCalcioGame team as well! They run the most popular Fantasy Serie A Game, but for now let’s go straight to the Q&A with Gregory offering lots of interesting takes on legends such as Pavel Nedved and Gianluigi Buffon.

1) Who are your 3 all-time favorite Juve players (ranked by preference) and why?

Pavel Nedved: My all-time favorite Juve player is undoubtedly Nedved. One of the first games I saw as a kid was Juve against Milan in 2005 and all I remember seeing was a player with blonde locks run effortlessly down the left wing. Of course, it was Nedved. From that point forward, I always watched Juve and became a fan. The rest is history.

Gianluigi Buffon: After Nedved, I would have to say it’s Buffon. Buffon has been with the team since I’ve followed them and is the main reason I’m a goalkeeper to this day. Beyond saving countless goals, he’s a class act both on and off the field. I’ll never forget his save on Zidane’s header in 2006.

Paulo Dybala: The last one is a bit difficult, but I have to go with Dybala. I know he’s not up there yet with Alessandro Del Piero and other legends, but Dybala is one of the reasons I’m still passionate about the team today. He’s always respected the shirt and is arguably the first worthy number 10 we’ve had since Del Piero. I hope he stays with Juve for the long haul.

2) From active players, pick your favorite Juve player by position: one each from defense, midfield and attack. Why did you pick them?

DEF: My favorite defender is 100% Merih Demiral (Gregory says it emphatically!). Since he’s joined, I always thought he would be very important for our success. It’s a shame the serious injury halted his progress, but I’m confident he’ll come back stronger. Demiral embodies everything that Juve should seek in a player. He’s confident, plays with an edge and has that fighting spirit. I’ll be ordering my Demiral jersey very soon.

MID: It has to be Rodrigo Bentancur. I’ve had my doubts about him over the years, but he’s stepped up this season and looks to be evolving into an important player for us. Like Demiral, he plays with an edge to his game which I feel we lack sometimes. I’m looking forward to seeing him make further progress when play hopefully resumes.

STR: It’s an obvious one- Paulo Dybala. You really get the sense that he loves Juve and fights for the shirt every time he steps onto the pitch. It goes without saying, but his left foot is incredible. It’s just amazing to watch him play. Now, if only Fabio Paratici shared the same opinion, we’d be better off.

3) Your choice for most important Juve victory in your lifetime? Why?

Without a doubt, when we knocked out Real Madrid 3-2 on aggregate in 2015. While the win against Inter in 2018 was huge, for me the Real result announced Juve’s return on the world stage and showed the rest of Europe “we are back.” After all, we just took out Real Madrid. The final didn’t go our way, but I can’t recall a win I’ve celebrated more.

4) Choose your all-time favorite Juve match, and why?

Against Inter and on their home turf just over two years ago. At times, it felt like the game and the title were slipping away but as soon as Dybala stepped onto the pitch, it changed everything. I’ll never forget Gonzalo Higuain’s goal to complete the comeback. Made it that much sweeter that it was against Inter at the San Siro.

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5) Where do you rank Sarri among the current generation of Italian coaches? How about among coaches worldwide?

I’d put him in the top five, but I wouldn’t rank him in the top tier of Italian managers at the moment. Conte is in a class of his own, in my opinion. Other than last year, I’d put Allegri in the same tier as Conte. Beyond them, I rate Gasperini highly but it would be interesting to see how he does outside of Atalanta.

Worldwide, I think he’s a top ten manager. If I had to rank them, I’d say this is my top ten: Klopp, Guardiola, Simeone, Conte, Zidane, Allegri, Nagelsmann, Sarri, Tuchel, Gasperini.

6) What’s Juve’s objective for this season? Is it Serie A, the Champions League, or both?

Definitely both. When you have Cristiano Ronaldo on your team, the objective always has to be the Champions League. While I don’t think the team is well equipped for a deep European run, a player like Ronaldo can make the difference in a big game. It would be a waste of his final years if Juve didn’t push for European glory.

7) Perhaps a tough one here but pick two from Marchisio, Pirlo, Pogba, and Vidal for your midfield, and why?

I love Marchisio and it’ll be hard to leave him out, but I have to go with Pirlo and Vidal. Pirlo is the ultimate Regista and is needed to dictate play. Obviously, it helps he can score a free-kick from just about any angle. As for Vidal, he’s your classic box-to-box midfielder and is not afraid to jump into tackles. Few midfielders impressed me more than prime Vidal and let’s not forget, he could score, too. Juve’s current midfield is really lacking his type of profile.

8) Where are Juve’s weaknesses? Some say right-back, others say left-back, or many mention the midfield. Your take?

It has to be the midfield. This may anger some, but Miralem Pjanic is a complete liability both in and out of possession. Juve can do much better in his position and I think they’ll look to replace him this summer. Blaise Matuidi is necessary to press and offer defensive support, but ultimately he’s far too limited. Remember his turnover against Napoli?

I think this Juve side needs at least two signings in the middle of the park and should arguably offload two or three guys (Sami Khedira, Pjanic and perhaps Adrien Rabiot) As I said before, this midfield lacks fight and demonstrates zero Grinta.

Of course, our depth at full-back is worrisome particularly with Alex Sandro slowing down, but for now, I think Sandro and Juan Cuadrado can manage the situation. Hopefully, Pellegrini comes back in the summer and competes for the left-back position.

9) In your opinion who is the best player (not necessarily your favorite) to ever wear the Juve shirt?

It has to be Del Piero. Record goalscorer and record appearance holder, few match Del Piero’s resume with the club. He’s won it all with us and has inspired many to support Juve over the years. At the height of Italian football, he was one of the best and led Juve to many trophies.

Del Piero set the standard for our number ten jersey and raised the bar for everyone after him. Perhaps Buffon is in it with a shout, but I have to give this one to Pinturicchio.

Fan Zone: Alberto on Baggio, Del Piero, Buffon and more!

As a big Juventus fan, Alberto is known for his extensive collection of Juve kits and for being extremely active in promoting Juve related events and podcasts on social media, specifically Twitter.

You can follow Alberto @alljuvecast and don’t forget to check out @striped_hearts too! Let’s not waste too much time and get to the exciting part with the Q&A below:

1) Who are your THREE all-time favorite Juve players, and why? 

Alessandro Del Piero: He really solidified my love and passion for Juve. He mesmerized me with his play and scored so many captivating goals and was an absolute pleasure to watch. With time he repaid the club with incredible gestures of loyalty- a value that is fading in the modern game but one that I admire a lot.

Roberto Baggio: He is the one who began my love for Juve. An absolutely and incredibly talented player- arguably the best Italian to ever player the game. My dad used to rewind his goals and watch them over and over in disbelief. I remember sitting there with him and then beginning to pretend I was him when I played in the yard.

Gianluigi Buffon: I was over the moon when we signed him and the rest is history. So many matches. So many memories. The absolute best goalkeeper in my opinion and one hell of a man. Another whose loyalty shall never be forgotten, specifically when he could’ve gone anywhere to play. So many incredible saves and his unforgettable reactions to defenders making a stop or our team scoring a goal! All of them are embedded in my brain forever. He is top class. We are incredibly fortunate as Juve fans to witness all three of them wearing our kit.

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2) From the current squad, please rank your favorite Juve player by position (DEF, MID & STR), and mention why for each pick?

DEF: My pick would be Chiellini. He still has this presence that is yet to be matched by someone when he is out of our lineup. The team did well while he was out but it’s not the same. We have done great by signing de Ligt as well as Merih Demiral but currently for me in defense Chiellini would be a go to in a crucial match if healthy. I can see Demiral as the closest one today to having the same type of presence and the one defender that forwards will dread having to face.

MID: Going with Bentancur. I really enjoy the way he plays. Head is always on a swivel and he is always looking to advance the play. Has a great engine and gets stuck in tackles too. He has the occasional sloppy fouls leading to cards but he is still very young and I feel his ceiling is quite high and I’m excited about him.

STR: Dybala is my pick. My personal favorite in the forward lineup as amazing as it is to watch Ronaldo in our lineup and to see him scoring goals (still surreal at times), I would still go with Dybala. He is so talented and fun to watch but even more importantly he loves the club and is proud to wear our kit, represent Juve and also the number 10.

3) Now onto a question many would like to hear your answer to: Would you pick Roberto Baggio or Del Piero for your team, and why?

This is killing me… and there is no wrong answer with these two, but if I could have Del Piero pre-injury I would pick him because I feel he would’ve been the one the upcoming greats would always be compared to. If you watch him before that injury- took him a year to recover from- he was a different animal. He had it all. The acceleration, pace, agility and he could kill you with creativity and distribution as well as scoring himself on top being an absolute master of free-kicks. A pre-injury Del Piero at a time when Serie A was stacked with talent, particularly defenders, was an absolute menace and I would take him.

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4) Dybala is having a solid season after a disappointing 2018/19 campaign. Where do you see him finishing this season in terms of total goals & assists in the league? And how important is he to Juve’s success?

I think Dybala would finish somewhere around 16 or so goals and close to same or just a bit higher on assists depending on game time. I’m not really sure what he needs to do to get in the starting XI on a regular basis. Dybala in my opinion is highly important to Juve’s success. We know our midfield has been a work in progress so Dybala’s ability to switch play and link up with the midfielders and other attackers is crucial as well as his own ability to finish given the opportunity.

5) Name your all-time favorite Juve match, and why?

My favorite match has to be the second leg of the 2002/03 Champions League semi-final vs Real Madrid. This is one of my absolute favorite Juventus squads ever. That 02/03 squad had it all and could hurt you in so many different ways. That Juve side had to face an incredibly talented Real Madrid side on top of being behind to Real after the first leg.

Still, Juve’s players were not intimidated or going to go down without a fight and as talented and strong as a team the Bianconeri were, I think of how dominant Lippi’s team was on that night. It was still a little bit surprising. I knew my Juve could do it but to dominate them like that was unbelievable. That win in Turin. The goals and the celebrations were iconic and I still get goosebumps watching it 17 years later. Just an absolute must watch for any new Juve fan.

6) Which Juve win is the most important one in your life-time? And why?

For me it is the 1996 Champions League win. Despite how many times we’ve made it to the Champions League finals, you just can’t take it for granted and getting to see Juve win one is something that will stay with me forever.

7) What is Juve’s objective for this season? Is it Serie A, the Champions League or both? 

I would say both and I think it has to be when you are that dominant domestically naturally the next step is Europe.

8) If football resumes, will Juve overturn the result against Lyon? How confident are you?

There’s no doubt in my mind Juve will turn it around. 100% confident we are moving on.

9) Which one team would you like Juve to avoid meeting in the knock-out stages of the Champions League before reaching the Final?

I would like to avoid Bayern Munich. They were playing some electric football before the shut down and they’re scoring a lot of goals. They’ve found their groove and are scoring at will and have Lewandowski on fire. I’d like to avoid them.

10) Which one team would you like Juve to avoid playing if the Bianconeri make it to the final?

Not a single team. The next final Juve make, they are winning it all! Fino alla Fine, Forza Juve!

Juventus Top Performers – Coppa Italia semis vs Milan

Juventus showed modest improvement compared to their last two road showings and managed to obtain a positive result out the San Siro clash with Milan despite letting the opponents have their way for the majority of the game.

Gianluigi Buffon: the back-line for the most part did an okay job in holding in check the opponents, which did not manifactured many clear-cut chances despite having the lion’s share of possession, then the veteran goalie stepped up when he needed to, with a pair of strong saves, in particular on an Ante Rebic’s effort under the bar in the first half and then coming out on the Croatian attacker after intermission. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 24

Wojciech Szczesny: with the top two defences (Inter and Lazio) facing off against each other, it makes sense to look at the next in line and the Bianconeri, who have been way better at home, have a plum match with Brescia coming up.

Alessio Romagnoli: trusting the Milan back-line has been an hit-and-miss affair, although they have given up only an acceptable 13 goals at home and they will host the reeling Torino, which have scored just twice in the past four matches and looked just a tiny bit better in the first game under the new coach. Continue reading

Buffon lauds UCL performances and expresses optimism for future

Fresh off a momentous appearance that made him the second oldest player to ever feature in a Champions League game, Gianluigi Buffon talked about Juventus and the duel with Inter in Serie A (Inter was eliminated in Europe) to Tuttosport: “It does not change all that much for us, if we are able to have the mind-set and humility we showed in Leverusen. If instead we are complacent and superficial in easier matches, starting with myself, then we are at risk. We had to provide some answers in that match, as a group, to see if we really wanted to achieve certain goals. In order to get to those, you need quality and experience, but also a tight squad that is able to suffer in some moments of the game.” Continue reading

Serie A Game of the Round – Juventus vs Sassuolo

Juventus’ first faux pas at home came at the hands of Sassuolo in a great match, which had the proper amount of fun and signifcance, with no disrepect to the fantastic Cagliari-Sampdoria thriller.

The Bianconeri came into the fixture having won four in a row, the most recent out thanks to a late surge against Atalanta, while the Emiliani were pipped at the post by Lazio last week and in general had showed improvements over the last four rounds.

Maurizio Sarri picked Gonzalo Higuain and Federico Bernardeschi over Paulo Dybala and Aaron Ramsey up front, with Cristiano Ronaldo made the XI for the second game in a row after knee injury. Continue reading

Pjanic delighted for personal and team’s form

Miralem Pjanic discussed the state of the team and his stellar moment in a Sunday’s interview with Sky Sport: “I feel great, I had a strong start. I am confident and in my prime. The team is playing well and I am having fun. The goals are surely nice, but what matters the most is to be in first position in the Champions League group and in the league. We have to maintain that during the upcoming stretch of matches and maybe increase the gap.” Continue reading

Buffon weighs in on new reduced role, Inter and Sarri

Juventus legend Gianluigi Buffon was chosen as new Goodwill Ambassador by the World Food Programme today and commented on that and on few football-related matters to Tuttomercatoweb: “It represents a growth on my part, which is inevitable since I will turn 42 in January, I matured a bit. As it is natural, I like to take on new challenges. Altruism will play the biggest part in this adventure and I am sure it will be an exciting one.”

“I am completely focused on the pitch for now because I have some responsibilities, as always, even though I am no longer the main protagonist every week. Whether you play or now, my role requires total dedication and it gratifies me because it not a secondary one.” Continue reading