Messi permitted to miss league opener

MADRID - Lionel Messi will be allowed to skip Barcelona's first game of the league season to join up with Argentina for their World Cup qualifier against Brazil, coach Pep Guardiola said on Saturday. Barcelona's Primera Liga opener at home to Sporting Gijon has been moved to Monday August 31, because the European Super Cup against Shakhtar Donetsk is on August 28. If Messi had played, he would have been late to join Argentina's preparations for their home match against the South American group leaders on September 5. "The European Super Cup is on the Friday and at the end of the day it is the player who suffers in these situations," Guardiola told a news conference. "He wants to play with Barcelona, but because of the FIFA regulations, he would have been cutting it fine to join up with his national team. I have given him permission." Diego Maradona's Argentina hold the fourth and final automatic qualifying slot in the group, two points ahead of Ecuador.