Taça Guanabara, or Guanabara Trophy, is a football tournament organized yearly since 1965 by the Rio de Janeiro State Football Federation. In its first four editions (1965, 1966, 1967 and 1968), Taça Guanabara was a tournament of its own right, completely unrelated to the Rio de Janeiro league, and the winners would be seeded to represent Rio de Janeiro in Taça Brasil de Futebol. From 1969 on, it became the first round of the Rio de Janeiro league.
The most successful team in the tournament's history is Flamengo, which have won it 19 times.
Sixteen teams of the competition are divided into two groups, with the traditional four prestigious teams, namely, Botafogo, Flamengo, Fluminense and Vasco da Gama are seeded. Two of them would be in one group and the other two would be in the other. It is possible other teams are also be seeded in some ways, but the seeding criteria are not stated in the competition rules and has never been publicly available.
Each team plays seven games in the group stage. Teams play against every team of the group, with the first two teams in each group qualify to the semifinals. The top team in each group plays the semifinal with the second team from the other group in a single match knock-out format, with the winners of the semifinals compete in the final of the tournament. The champion of the tournament qualified for the Campeonato Carioca Finals to play against the winner of Rio Trophy.
The first season of the tournament was held in 1965. At the time, the tournament was considered an individual competition unrelated to the Campeonato Carioca. Not until 1982, the tournament became the first stage of Campeonato Carioca, but it has been considered a separate competition to certain extent, with a trophy being awarded to the winner of the tournament.
Historically, the current format was adopted, with the only notable format changes in 1994 and 1995 throughout the history.
In 1994, twelve teams were divided into two groups as the current system. However, in the group stage, teams not only played against teams from the same group, but they also played against teams from the other group in the second phase of the group stage, as the current Taça Rio. After the group stage, the first placed team in each group competed for the Taça Guanabara final directly without semi-finals. The final match of Taça Guanabara was played only in order to determine the champion of Taça Guanabara, but without any influence on the results of Campeonato Carioca. The top two teams of each group of Taça Guanabara, entered the final phase of Campeonato Carioca, which was not part of Taça Guanabara. Those four teams played a double round-robin tournament to compete for the champion of Campeonato Carioca.
In 1995, the number of teams increased to 16. Teams were divided into two groups of eight. As the 1994 edition, they played two phase of group stage, against teams from the same group and teams from the other group once respectively. After the group stage, the top team of each group competed in the Taça Guanabara final, with the winner being awarded one point in the final phase of Campeonato Carioca. The top four teams in each group then contested the final phase of Campeonato Carioca, not being considered part of Taça Guanabara, in a double round-robin tournament to determine the winner of Campeonato Carioca. The first placed team in each group after the first and second phase of group stage, as well as the winner of Taça Guanabara, would be awarded for one more point in the final phase.
Because of these format changes, Taça Rio was not held in these two years. Since 1996, the old format has been adopted again.
Titles by team
- Flamengo 20 titles
- Vasco da Gama 11 titles
- Fluminense 10 titles
- Botafogo 7 titles
- América 1 title
- Americano 1 title
- Volta Redonda 1 title
Since 1990, the winner of the Guanabara Cup has also won the State championship in 1992, 1994, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.