The end justifies the means for Leeds United head coach Marcelo Bielsa when it comes to risk loving Kiko Casilla

The end justifies the means for Marcelo Bielsa when it comes to his risk loving goalkeeper Kiko Casilla.

Tuesday, 6th August 2019, 9:38 am
Kiko Casilla playing 'sweeper keeper' during Sunday's game at Bristol City

Casilla's contribution to the first game of the season was, to put it lightly, a talking point.

A social media wit posted a mock image of the Spaniard's heat map for Sunday's Championship opener at Bristol City, liberally daubing yellow and red over the vast majority of the green pitch - but it wasn't a complete exaggeration

He did go a-wandering.

It began in the first five seconds of the game, Casilla dropping the shoulder to leave the perilously proximate Famara Diédhiou chasing a shadow.

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And it didn't really stop.

Casilla hared off his line and out of his box at, seemingly, every given opportunity.

In his bright yellow and blue strip he cut a startling, almost unnatural figure so far up the pitch.

Like an emergency services vehicle careering through traffic with the lights flashing, he sent signals to the brains of spectators that said everything isn't quite right here, there is danger.

It jarred, thanks mostly to our conditioning, the years of watching goalkeepers who rarely strayed outside their area and played it 'safe.'

Casilla didn't always make perfect contact with the ball. He didn't play it safe. But, and this is crucial in Bielsa's mind, his adventures didn't result in a Bristol City goal.

The worst it got for Leeds was a solid right cross that landed squarely on the side of Liam Cooper's head.

Bielsa called a spade a spade in his post-game press conference.

"He took risks again," said the Argentine coach.

But he's willing to accept the risks that come with his number one keeper's heart-stopping style, if it doesn't hurt the team.

"When you take risk, you value the risk depending on the result.

"If he doesn't make a mistake, it will be good. But if he makes a mistake it will be bad."

Bielsa's analysis of the former Real Madrid man's overall 90-minute display was positive.

As far as he was concerned, Casilla made the right calls.

"For me, the performance of Kiko, he showed the correct personality," he said.

"He managed the tempo of the game, took risks and didn't make mistakes.

"When it wasn't the right moment to take these types of risks, he stopped and read the situation and managed the game very well."

Casilla's presence 35 yards from his own goal might have sent hearts racing in the away end but it also maintained or even increased the speed at which Leeds could play.

Phases of play that looked to be turning into a Bristol City attack could suddenly be flipped on their head, with the Whites on the front foot thanks to Casilla's intervention and distribution.

The balance of probability suggests that, at some stage over a 46-game season, Casilla won't get to a ball and an opponent will have a free shot at an unguarded net.

The sight of him steaming out of his area during the play-off semi-final second leg against Derby County, allowing Jack Marriott to score, is still scored into the psyche of Whites fans.

From what we saw at Ashton Gate, that's not the case for the keeper himself, nor for the man whose opinion counts most.

Bielsa is willing to put his trust in Casilla.

It's a risk but the reward they're both looking for is huge and fortune may, this season, favour the brave.