The Spanish giants welcomed back Messi after a bout of kidney stones and the mercurial Argentine scored with a clinical finish on 36 minutes, before a lethal Luis Suarez double destroyed River's hopes.
Expressing his admiration for reigning European champions FC Barcelona, football legend Pele has said the Catalan giants come closest to the style of the World Cup winning Brazilian teams of his generation.
Former European champions Ajax Amsterdam and Celtic, who both suffered the indignity of being knocked of the Champions League qualifiers by underdogs this season, will meet in the Europa League after being drawn together in the group stage on Friday.
A minute`s silence will be held before Real Madrid`s La Liga game at home to Levante later on Sunday and the players will wear black armbands following the death of former Real goalkeeper Antonio Betancort at the age of 78.
Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti admitted he is at a loss to explain the European champions dramatic slump in form as they sneaked into the quarter-finals of the Champions League despite losing 4-3 to Schalke on Tuesday.
AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi has signed a preliminary agreement to sell 30% of the club to Bee Taechaubol following a meeting between the Italian media magnate and the Thai businessman, according to reports Sunday.
Real Madrid director of institutional relations Emilio Butragueno has insisted the European champions will collaborate with FIFA over any investigation into their recruiting of players under the age of 18.
Billionaire Klaus-Michael Kuehne has acquired a 7.5 percent stake at former European champions Hamburg SV after pumping in 18.75 million euros in investment and also bagged the stadium naming rights, the club said on Thursday.