In the last two championships, the distance between Milan and Rome was 43 (2021/22) and 40 points (2020/21). The tally of Inter and Milan remained identical in the two-year period of triumphs, 170 in both cases, while that of the teams from the Capital dropped by only 3 points in the running season of Sarri and Mourinho compared to the one with Inzaghi and Fonseca (from 43 to 40 points). The distance was crystallized: the Milanese battled each other for the Scudetto while the Romans dueled to divide the Europa League and the Conference. The first ones now took the entry into the Champions League for granted, the second ones didn’t even come close.
Now, with the first leg over, they are all enclosed in one point. The difference in height has disappeared. The Milanese have worsened by 13 points overall and the Romans have improved by 11 total points. Lazio and Rome are no better than the neighbors but, in some respects, they are showing the way. They based their projects on coaches before anything else.
Sarri and Mourinho, in fact, perceive wages higher than the clubs’ possibilities: the Lazio player collects 3.5 million net a year, only less than Immobile (4) and more than Milinkovic-Savic (3.2) while Mourinho signed for 7 million per season. Wijnaldum, the highest paid Giallorossi, stops at 5, the tandem of recent Dybala-Abraham dreams at 4.5. It means that the technicians in Rome are the recognized and recognizable “top-players”: for this reason, as well as for the palmares, in moments of difficulty nobody questions their regime.
The technician is an exception to the rule of financial equilibrium. Lotito has always managed Lazio with the accounts in hand: never buy if you don’t sell first, never take the longest step. Maybe he hasn’t landed any major signings but being able to keep a happy Milinkovic-Savic in the squad for all these years, refusing three-figure offers, is a coup. Lazio in the summer revolutionized to become more sarrista but managed to spend more or less what it collected: 39 million outgoing, 36 incoming. Even the Friedkins have set up a zero-impact Rome.
In the first months they disposed of the ballast of heavy contracts piled up by the previous management, then they landed some value shots like Abraham at 40 million to inject future assets into the squad. In the summer they asked Tiago Pinto for a zero impact market in which Dybala returned as a free agent and now, see Zaniolo, they impose that the players do not sell out but sell themselves at the right price. The Roman clubs are solid while the team game has become recognizable. Lazio drums as Sarri wants (6 goals scored and zero conceded between Sassuolo and Milan), Roma defends (they only conceded 12 potential goals, least of all, cashing in just 16) and counterattack “à la Mourinho”. Precisely because they are opposites, fans appreciate these two football ideas. They use them to distinguish themselves, even now that they go hand in hand in the standings, putting pressure on the Milanese who are instead united by problems.