Riise brothers stoke up family rivalry

Brothers may meet for the first time in a UEFA Europa League game on Thursday with AS Roma full-back John Arne Riise and Fulham FC's Bjørn Helge Riise set to go head to head at Craven Cottage.

John Arne Riise and Bjørn Helge Riise celebrate a goal for Norway
John Arne Riise and Bjørn Helge Riise celebrate a goal for Norway ©Getty Images

There will be a family reunion on the banks of the Thames on Thursday when Fulham FC and AS Roma meet in the UEFA Europa League.

Ranieri warning
Fulham midfielder Bjørn Helge Riise could well line up against big brother John Arne of Roma in the Group E contest at Craven Cottage – neither has missed a group game yet and they could even find themselves in direct confrontation given the former's sometime station on Fulham's right flank and the latter's customary left-sided berth. Roma's Riise has already been warned by his coach Claudio Ranieri about how to handle this particular sibling rivalry, Ranieri joking: "He will have to do really well against his brother and run a lot as his brother is really fast."

'Competition time'
"I always look forward to playing against someone I know and I know my brother better than anyone else," said John Arne, who spent seven seasons in England with Liverpool FC. Three years Bjørn Helge's senior the Roma man, 29, added: "My brother and I are room-mates in the Norway national team. Like every young player, he has a lot of tasks such as bringing the balls and dealing with the kit. In our room we have a lot of competitions which I can't go into detail about but for us it's 'competition time' again."

Schwarzer seeks revenge
Fulham have in their ranks goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer who has had mixed fortunes against Italian opposition. He was beaten by an added-time penalty from Roma captain Francesco Totti - absent tonight - when Italy ended Australia's FIFA World Cup dreams at the last-16 stage in 2006, but was in the Middlesbrough FC team that eliminated Roma en route to the 2006 UEFA Cup final, and is delighted to be back on the European stage.

'Big occasion'
"We had two fantastic seasons with Middlesbrough in the UEFA Cup and I'm excited about being in the Europa League," he said. "Obviously you would love to play in the Champions League, but there are only so many teams who can play in it. The Europa League is the next best thing and for Fulham it is a big occasion. They are not perceived to be one of the bigger clubs in London and to be on the European stages is quite an accomplishment."