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Page last updated at 22:47 GMT, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 23:47 UK

Riise hopes to thrive with Roma

By Julian Taylor

John Arne Riise
Last season's semi-final was disappointing for me but these things happen. I'm really looking forward to the game

John Arne Riise
Roma defender John Arne Riise says he has put the disappointment of losing in the last four of last season's Champions League behind him - but concedes he is still coming to terms with Italian football.

The Norwegian, 28, scored an own goal while playing against Chelsea for Liverpool in the first leg of the semi-final in the 2007-2008 campaign, with the Blues going on to win the tie.

Riise had come on at Anfield as a 61st-minute substitution for Fabio Aurelio but his stoppage-time goal ensured the Blues emerged with a 1-1 draw - and a subsequent 4-3 aggregate victory.

Speaking ahead of Roma's Champions League Group A clash at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, Riise told BBC Sport: "Last season's semi-final was disappointing for me but these things happen. I'm really looking forward to the game.

"I am still settling into the Italian style of play but it's good for me at this stage of my career.

"Now that I am here I want to help Roma as much as possible.

"Chelsea are the best team in Europe at the moment but I have scored many goals against them before so I have nothing to prove."

The left-back - who helped Liverpool to Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup successes after moving from Monaco in 2001 - is seeking to thrive in Serie A, since his 4m switch from the Premier League in June.

"Coming to Roma is a real challenge for me. Everything is different," explained Riise.

"I am learning to adapt to the culture, the style of football, it is a real change of scene for me and I am enjoying the experience.

"At the end of my career I can look back and say that I have played in some of the best leagues in the world - in France, England and now Italy.

"But hopefully that can wait for a while yet."

John Arne Riise
Riise's own goal gave Chelsea a draw in last season's Anfield semi-final

Riise, who has been capped over 70 times for Norway, made a total of 348 appearances for the Reds, scoring 33 goals in his career on Merseyside.

However, Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez preferred Fabio Aurelio for much of 2007/08, with the Brazilian keeping a frustrated Riise on the fringes.

"Everyone knows I didn't want to leave Liverpool in the summer but in the end I had to go," added Riise, who has signed a four-year deal with Roma.

Luciano Spalletti's side, who finished second in the table last term, have had a surprisingly poor start to the season.

Domestically, the i Lupi (the Wolves) sit 14th in Serie A and suffered a recent 4-0 home loss to league leaders Inter Milan.

And it has been a case of mixed fortunes so far in the Champions League, with a 3-1 victory in Bordeaux before a shock 2-1 home defeat against Romanian minnows CFR Cluj.

Spalletti - who was linked with the Chelsea managerial post before Luis Felipe Scolari's appointment in June - is looking for a positive response from his players.

"The reaction that is really important to me is that the players remain calm in the dressing room," admitted Spalletti, who joined Roma from Udinese in 2005.

"We do have a very important game ahead of us but the main opponent to us at the moment are these difficulties and problems.

"The players appreciate the qualities they have and the difficulties we are having to face.

"Some of them we were aware of in the past and now the time has come to focus on them.

"Then we will move on and play Chelsea, which will be a tough game against one of the best teams in the world, who have one of the best managers."

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see also
Chelsea v Roma
21 Oct 08 |  Europe
Reds pay tribute to exiting Riise
19 Jun 08 |  Liverpool
Liverpool 1-1 Chelsea
22 Apr 08 |  Europe

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