LONDON — Chelsea has been defying expectations all season — from the surprisingly poor domestic campaign to the astonishing humbling of Barcelona.

The obituaries that were written for an aging team have been ripped up and replaced with tributes to a fearless squad that has defied the odds to reach the Champions League final for the second time in four years.

Winning the European Cup for the first time had seemed an unlikely proposition when Andre Villa-Boas was booted out in March with the domestic campaign in turmoil and Chelsea looking to be headed out of the Champions League.

While the Blues continue to flounder in the Premier League, they held on with 10 men at Barcelona on Wednesday after captain John Terry's sending off to draw 2-2 and advance 3-2 on aggregate to the final.