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Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuain 'Examples' at Juventus, Says Gianluigi Buffon

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistDecember 12, 2019

LEVERKUSEN, GERMANY - DECEMBER 11: Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus looks on during the UEFA Champions League group D match between Bayer Leverkusen and Juventus at BayArena on December 11, 2019 in Leverkusen, Germany. (Photo by Koji Watanabe/Getty Images)
Koji Watanabe/Getty Images

Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon hailed Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain as good "examples" after the team's UEFA Champions League win over Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday. 

The Italian champions were able to pull away from their opponents late in the game, with strikes from Ronaldo and Higuain enough to give Maurizio Sarri's team a 2-0 win. They qualified as winners of Group D, ahead of Atletico Madrid.

It was a professional performance from Sarri's side in Germany. Afterwards, Buffon said there were facets of the display that should give the team confidence moving forward, per Sky Sport Italia (h/t Tom Webber of Goal):

"If we face the games this way, I am sure we can all do great things. However, if we approach matches with a sense of snobbery, that becomes a problem. 

"It's a bad sign if you don't go into games with the right determination if you are 20, let alone in your 40s. I am glad that we had examples like Higuain and Ronaldo to lead the way in their performance, work ethic and show of sacrifice for the team."

Here are the highlights from the match at the BayArena, with the Bianconeri scuppering Leverkusen's qualification hopes:

Bleacher Report Live @brlive

Dybala to Ronaldo, Juve fans love to see it 🤩 ➡️ https://t.co/a06xWN154n https://t.co/CBKM5LrApy

Bleacher Report Live @brlive

Dybala to Higuaín for the stoppage time finish 🌟 https://t.co/5epDMGlOD8

Given Juventus had already qualified for the knockout stages of the competition before the match on Wednesday, Sarri could have rested key performers like Ronaldo and Higuain.

However, following on from their disappointing 3-1 loss to Lazio in Serie A on Saturday, it felt important Juventus got back to winning ways quickly. They did thanks to the razor-sharp finishing of their forwards and a strong defensive effort, including some big saves from Buffon.

The 41-year-old goalkeeper was in a relaxed mood ahead of the encounter in Germany:

B/R Football @brfootball

Gigi Buffon is still a kid at heart 😂 https://t.co/7VngDHkfkL

Per OptaPaolo, it was a landmark night for the veteran goalkeeper:

OptaPaolo @OptaPaolo

41, 317 - 41 years and 317 days Gianluigi Buffon becomes today the second oldest player in a Champions League game, after Marco Ballotta (43 years, 252 days). History.

Displays like the one on Tuesday will give Juventus supporters hope that their team can make a deep run in the competition.

Not only are they capable of snuffing out vibrant attacking talent, in Ronaldo and Higuain they possess two of the most ruthless finishers in the competition. That means they will always be a goal threat.

Ronaldo has enjoyed the Champions League throughout his career:

UEFA Champions League @ChampionsLeague

Cristiano Ronaldo's record in the #UCL = 🔥🔥🔥 ⚽️1⃣2⃣8⃣ 👕1⃣6⃣8⃣ ⚪️⚫️ @Cristiano 👏👏👏 https://t.co/fJRQyJh1S5

Ronaldo, Higuain and substitute Paulo Dybala linked up well during the game:

Mina Rzouki @Minarzouki

Here’s my question. There’s no need to win against Bayer Leverkusen. Why not start Dybala, Ronaldo and Higuaín? Let them have fun. All three are on now since Berna is off and Ronaldo scored. From a Dybala assist.

Mina Rzouki @Minarzouki

Lovely Higuaín. Dybala providing again. All three need to play. They look good together

Domestically, Juventus have a fight on their hands to win Serie A this season, with Inter Milan two points ahead of the champions after 15 games.

Sarri will hope the competitive edge needed to win that tussle will keep the team sharp in the Champions League in the latter stages. If they are focused and in form, Juventus will be a challenging prospect for anyone in the last 16 and beyond.