Inter Milan could hope to take advantage of a more open, possession-based approach from Atletico Madrid in their Champions League round of sixteen tie.

Today’s print edition of Milan-based newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, via FCInterNews, highlight a potential Achilles heel at the heart of the defense for the Colchoneros.

Obviously Atletico will be a huge test for this Inter team.

The Madrid club have been one of Europe’s elite teams for over a decade under the coaching of Diego Simeone.

But this season has seen a real stylistic shift from Atletico.

More than ever, Simeone has focused on possession-based attacks.

This is in contrast to the extreme focus on defensive solidity that has tended to characterize Simeone’s tactics.

The new, more open style has been on display in La Liga. Subsequently, Atletico have scored fifty goals and conceded 26.

And in the Champions League, the Colchoneros gave a clear demonstration of what they’re capable of with a convincing win over Lazio.

How Inter Can Exploit Weakness Of More Possession-Based Atletico Madrid

As the Gazzetta notes, a symbol of this tactical shift is the use of Axel Witsel as a central defender.

The Belgian veteran has many positive qualities. But he is not necessarily the most physical or positionally natural defender.

Rather, Simeone has been using Witsel as the first player in the buildup phase.

The 35-year-old has played this role successfully. All too often, he has been the player initiating dangerous attacks from the back for Atletico.

But Witsel’s pace, physicality, and awareness of danger don’t necessary equal the former Borussia Dortmund man’s technical ability, passing range, and vision.

That is where Inter’s strikers can look to pounce.

The fact that Atletico look determined to play the ball on the ground in buildup will give Inter’s strikers opportunity to win the ball back in dangerous situations by applying pressure.

Those opportunities would not necessarily have been there in previous seasons. Prior defensive stalwarts like Diego Godin and Miranda would have been far likelier to just go long.

Then, there is the fact that wingbacks Nahuel Molina and Samuel Lino tend to push up aggressively in possession for Atletico.

That could give Inter’s midfielders and wingbacks space in which to combine dangerously.