Lotto is a brand synonymous with the golden age of Italian football. Baggy shirts, black boots and technical brilliance. Since then, contemporaries like Nike and adidas have surpassed Lotto in innovating and marketing of their football boots. Part of it has been their insistence to stick to leather as their key material while the big brands have developed innovations with knit and synthetics.
Lotto has, to their credit, have tried to modernise their products in recent years. The Lotto Solista is a very good example in the form of a fully knitted laceless upper that provides excellent lockdown for a laceless boot.
Lotto still love their leather and with the Lotto Stadio 100 II, this was their attempt to compete in knit/leather hybrid category alongside the the adidas Copa, Nike Tiempo Legend and Mizuno Morelia Neo 3 Beta. While the Lotto Stadio 100 II is a good boot, it does feel like it uncomfortably straddles two eras of boot making in one package.
Lotto Stadio – Modernising a classic
The original Lotto Stadio was the football boot to wear in the 80s and 90s. Clarence Seedorf, Cafu, Andriy Shevchenko and Ruud Gullit were just some of the top names associated with the black and green icon. In an era of blacked out leather boots, the luminous green soleplate and logo helped it stand out and paved the way for football boots being seen as a fashion accessory.
Fast forward to today, the dated but beautiful Lotto Stadio is a hard sell to today’s younger players who look up to Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Pogba for the latest boot trends. The Lotto Stadio 100 II is Lotto’s answer to engage with this generation of players.
The naming convention suggests that “II” ties this boot directly as the successor to the original Lotto Stadio and draws a line past other Stadio variants of the 2000s like the Potenza. The “100” recognises this as the top tier boot with the 200 and 300 models being takedown variants.
As part of this lineage to the past, the boot comes in the same black and green colourway though they’ve since launched a few different colours. My personal favourite is the white leather variant which looks exquisite against the green.
A good 70% of the upper is covered in leather while the other 30% is made from knit. Save for the lace area that is required to stretch, this knit is mostly covered in a thick layer of TPU plastic. The inclusion of the knitted construction also turns this into a tongue-less boot, further solidifying its modern credentials. With no additional performance features, the Lotto Stadio 100 II is meant to combine the elegant touch of leather with the comforts that knit brings.
An interesting bit of duality, referencing the old and new, can be seen in how the logo is presented on both sides of the boot. On the instep, the logo is stitched on to leather while Lotto logo is fully synthetic on the lateral side.
A spacious toebox and stiff insole
Created as a one-piece upper, the Lotto Stadio 100 II is a little challenging to put on the first time around. However, the boot does break in quite quickly and putting it on and off in consequent sessions were much easier though, you can never beat the ease of putting on a boot with a traditional tongue.
The boot offers moderately decent lockdown in the mid-foot and heel area but you’d quickly notice the roomy toe box when going true to size. I’d recommend going half size down as a solution for that toe box while the rest of the boot stretches to accommodate your feet.
Warming up in the Lotto Stadio 100 II was a little bit of a strange affair. Every step I made felt a little uncomfortable due to stud pressure. But this wasn’t from the studs, which were short enough for artificial ground, but from the rather stiff insole. It flexed naturally but when laid out flat, it does feel harder than most insoles.
Most football boot insoles are pretty thin and basic to begin with so it speaks volumes about Lotto’s error in production that they could get the insole done so badly. You could easily buy replacement insoles of course, but to get such a basic feature wrong on a top grade boot that was meant to be a spiritual successor to a classic, that’s pretty criminal.
Leathering the ball in the Stadio
The Lotto Stadio 100 II does its job sufficiently in most aspects. Passing and shooting felt hassle free though I missed a step in not getting the boot in half a size smaller as it did affect my touch with the spacious toe box. My touches and passing were a little off in them at first due to the extra space around my toes – I just couldn’t connect well with the ball.
When you get the size right, the close touch on the ball with this leather upper would please most leather boot traditionalists as it is quite a no-frills affair. And this very sensation explains why I love receiving a ball whizzed at pace via my instep. The light padding makes this boot feel like a solid leather boot of the 90s. It does its job well without the bells and whistles of today’s technology. Having a good touch and adding spin to your ball are all down to your technique – which is exactly how old school leather fans would prefer it to be.
Its modern take on the leather has Lotto infusing a foam cage structuring within it to reduce overstretching though I reckon its effect and application would be quite minimal. I’m not wholly convinced that the small ribbed texture across the leather will do too much to manage the overstretching. It’s such a shame because the leather used in the boot is relatively thin and softens and creases up beautifully after a couple of wears. I’d hate to see this turn sloppy in a year’s time.
The only thing that is not very 90s with the Lotto Stadio 100 II is the weight. It comes in at 220g in a US 9.5. A decent weight by modern standards and exceptionally light comparing it to its big brothers that came before.
Locking down the 90s
I never felt insecure when pivoting and cutting in different directions wearing the Lotto Stadio 100 II. This might be due to the slightly thicker mid-foot that keeps it rigid when pressure is applied. Whether its the leather instep or the synthetic material on the lateral side, its rigidity never caused me to feel uncomfortable when moving all across the pitch.
The soleplate is one of the least fascinating aspects of the boot. It looks pretty plain and perhaps, a little cheap, but it does its job on most grounds. The studs are mostly conical with some Pacman-like chevron indentations. They don’t do too much for aggressive grip which is fine by me. Pivoting in them is easy and fuss free and the studs are definitely short enough for artificial ground.
Stadio of the Future
You have to give credit Lotto for attempting to rise out of its slumber to connect with players of today. The Lotto Stadio 100 II is quite a good looker – which is the least you’d expect from the sartorially inclined Italians. The bright green definitely caught the eye of my training mates during the course of the review.
Overall, they’ve also managed to replicate the sensation and feel of a 90s leather boot in the form of a modern style knitted football boot. It works just like advertised and has no major issues (save for that insole).
That said, it’s a boot that I never felt wholly connected with as much as I would have liked to. If I wanted a classic leather boot, I’d easily plonked for the Nike Premier 2.0 as it’s much cheaper, easier to put on and has no issues with the insole. There are also many leather boots in the market who could provide the same level of performance.
If I wanted a modern knit/leather mash up, industry heavy hitters like the Mizuno Morelia Neo 3 Beta and the adidas Copa are streets ahead in providing an X-factor to how the boots feel.
The struggles of an old brand like Lotto is reflected in the (lack of) appeal in the Lotto Stadio 100 II. They are finding it hard to connect today’s customers with its storied history. Their current boots are not interesting enough for this age, while also being too disconnected for older customers who loved their older stuff. I feel that the “Stadio” brand should have been reserved for their classic boot, which they still produce as the Lotto Stadio Made in Italy for classic fans. Forget any concepts around “Stadio II” and work on a totally new concept around power, control or something radically different for the modern player.
The solid performance and soft leather treatment in the Lotto Stadio 100 II shows that the boot still has the Lotto soul contained in it. But it feels more like Voldemort’s horcrux that is looking to be released from its half life instead of one that is looking to fully embrace what the future holds.