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Besart Berisha taking on the club he will join next season and a repeat of last season's grand final are among the big talking points in next weekend's A-League semi-finals

1. Will Besart Berisha endear himself to his future team-mates?

There haven't been too many teams in recent years to have gone a whole season without the league's most dangerous player, Besart Berisha, scoring against them. Victory have done it in 2013-14 and it wasn't hard for them to stop the Albanian from breaking down their defence. Why? For the simple reason that he hasn't played against them.

Berisha missed Victory's 1-0 win at Etihad Stadium in Round 3 due to a hamstring problem, and sat out Roar's 3-0 triumph at AAMI Park later in the season due to a hip complaint. He was then suspended for Roar's 1-0 home win to seal the premiers' plate last month.

Next weekend's final between the clubs has a fascinating subplot, with Berisha, playing against Victory for the first time this season, required to do the damage against a team he will be joining as international marquee in 2014-15. Victory shouldn't expect the Albanian assassin to do them any early favours.

2. Grand Final revenge on the agenda at Pirtek

Tony Popovic has created such an accomplished, ruthless outfit that it's easy to forget it's just their second campaign in the competition. Last year they went agonisingly close to completing an extraordinary football fairytale, only to lose to Central Coast in the season decider at ANZ Stadium.

No-one begrudged the plucky Mariners their richly-deserved title, the culmination of years of sound management - on and off the field - at the tiny Gosford outfit. But the Wanderers will offer no quarter to their grand final conquerors when the teams meet again next weekend. This time the showdown will be on Western Sydney's turf, and they will surely be determined to exact revenge en route to a second successive grand final for one of these teams.

3. Another game of chess at Suncorp Stadium?

The Round 24 game between the Roar and Victory in the Queensland capital was one of the most tense and intriguing matches this season. The hosts needed to win to guarantee top spot and wrap up the premiers' plate, while the visitors were still fighting hard to get into the top two.

Both teams enjoyed their fair share of goal-scoring opportunities, but a heroic defensive performance from the away team - not a quality often associated with Ange Postecoglou and Kevin Muscat's Victory - looked set to deny Mike Mulvey's men. It took Luke Brattan's memorable long-range winner to snatch all three points late on.

Will it be another tight test of tactics and strategy next weekend, or will both teams' attacking instincts get the better of them and produce an end-to-end classic?

4. Phil Moss seeks to emulate Graham Arnold

Everyone was writing the Mariners off in February and understandably so. By then they'd lost title-winning coach Arnold and the bulk of the first team that took them to glory in 2012-13. Arnie's former assistant, now in the top job, was doing the best he could and had acted quickly in the January transfer window to reinforce. But five successive defeats in all competitions seemed to sound the death knell for the Mariners' title defence, never mind trying to succeed in the AFC Champions League.

Well, we were wrong. By hook or by crook Moss has got his cobbled-together squad playing and playing well, claiming third on the table and with the ACL round of 16 within reach. Still the ultimate underdog and still the secret second team of some supporters (except of course those of a Newcastle Jets persuasion), can Central Coast upset the odds yet again by reaching a third grand final in the space of four seasons?

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